‘First they came for the Christians, then they came for the Ahmadis, then they came for the Shias – Who will they pick next?” – read one of the placards held by protesters in front of the Press Club on Wednesday.
As many as 20 people stood protested the recent killings of Shias in Babusar and Quetta.
“They (Shias) are being killed for belonging to a religious sect,” Amanullah Karriaper told The Express Tribune. Karriaper, a software engineer who organised the protest, said the current year had seen the targeted killings of Shias across the country increase.” “The targeting of a group of people for their faith is extremely dangerous for the country,” he said.
Karriaper said HRCP had reported that as many as 313 Shias have been killed this year alone. He said the government was not doing enough to bring sectarian violence to an end. “None of this would have happened without the active connivance of the government and law enforcing agencies,” Karriaper said.
“This protest was called by a group of Sunnis so that people and media do not dismiss our voice as coming from marginalised sections of the society,” Karriaper said. One of the banners at the protest read, “We condemn the killing of our Shia brethren – Sunni Citizens.” He said the protesters were independent people expressing their solidarity with Shias.
“People in the Punjab have not been sensitised about the issue of how people are being persecuted in this country,” said another protester, Hasan Rehman. Rehman, who has previously protested with the Labour Party Pakistan and lawyers movement, said, “Protesting is not about self glorification. People are dying and we are all turning a blind eye.”
Raheemul Haque, working at the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies also participated in the protest. Haque, who is also a research fellow at the Centre for Public Policy and Governance at the Forman Christian College, said it was necessary to raise a voice for the rights of all citizens of the country, irrespective of their religious or other affiliations.
This is one of the several small protests that have been organised in the city over the targeted killing of Shias since a group of over 50 citizens protested at the Liberty Chowk in April against the killing of Hazara Shias in Quetta.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2012.