QUETTA: People from across the country staged protests in their respective cities on Saturday against the targeted killings of Shias in several attacks, including two blasts in Quetta on Thursday that left over a 100 dead.
The protest in Karachi was staged at Karachi Press Club, while the protest in Islamabad was held at F-6 Supermarket. A demonstration was also held at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk.
Meanwhile protesters gathered in Quetta under the Unity council continued their sit-in at Alamdar road for a second successive night, vowing to remain there till the situation improves.
Political parties support protesters
Political parties also came out to express support for Quetta’s under attack community.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement said on Saturday that it supported the Hazara community’s plea for giving Quetta under army control. “If army control is not legally possible, then give Quetta under governor rule,” MQM’s Raza Haroon said in a press conference in Karachi.
They also called for the chief justice to take notice of the situation.
Haroon added that a delegation of the MQM’s Rabita Committee will visit Quetta tomorrow and meet with members of the Hazara community.
In Lahore, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan joined protesters gathered outside Punjab Governor house.
Imran voiced solidarity with the Hazara community and announced that he will also be visiting Quetta on Sunday.
Meanwhile Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif urged the government to evolve a viable strategy for elimination of terrorism.
In a statement he said that incidents in Quetta and Swat are very tragic.
Picture by twitter user @mightyobvious shows the protest held in Islamabad against the Shia killings
Quetta sit-in continues, bodies decomposing
The Shia community’s sit-in entered the second day as members braved cold and rain as they sat on Quetta streets with coffins of those killed in Thursday’s deadly bombings, demanding that the military seize control of the provincial capital and protect the Muslim minority community.
Shia leaders also told Reuters they would not allow the victims of two bomb attacks in Quetta on Thursday to be buried until their demands were met. After the passage of two days with lack of response from the government, the bodies started decomposing.
Express News correspondent Arif Mahmood reported even as the protest continued into the early hours of Saturday, the protesters had been in negotiations with the deputy commissioner and FC personnel.
Husnain Baloch, a local at the protests told The Express Tribune that people were staging a sit-in on Alamdar road, near Thursday’s blast, braving heavy rain and cold.
MNA Syed Nasir Shah, talking to Express News lashed out at the government for being incapable of hindering the terrorists. “Either the government has failed or it is supporting them [terrorists],” he said.
Calling in the army
“The government machinery has failed, there is no protection for people in Quetta,” local Shia party official Hashim Mausawi told AFP.
“We will not end our protest until we get an assurance that the Pakistan army will take over security and administrative control in Quetta.”
Senior administration official Hashim Ghilzai told AFP, “We had discussions with them until late last night and I am now going there to resume negotiations with them today. We are trying to convince them to end the protest.”
It was up to the government to decide if it wants to call in troops, he added.
A Shia Muslim leader publicly criticised Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani over the security in the country.
“I ask the army chief: what have you done with these extra three years you got (in office)? What did you give us except more death?” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, who heads a national council of Shia organisations, told a news conference. His statements highlighted Shia community’s frustrations with Pakistan’s failure to contain militant groups who have vowed to wipe out Shias.