HYDERABAD: The first anniversary of the February 16, 2017 suicide blast at the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Jamshoro district was commemorated on Friday. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah led the official commemoration while devotees as well as some nationalist and religious parties also separately remembered the tragedy.
The blast killed around 86 people and injured more than 350. The time of dhammal, the ritual of an ecstatic Sufi dance which attracts devotees, was presumably selected with the intent to maximise the casualties. Although the incident claimed many innocent lives, the devotees remained undaunted as the saint's 765th urs in May, 2017 recorded a historic attendance of more than two million people.
Talking to the media after laying a chaddar at the shrine, the CM claimed that the law enforcement agencies successfully tracked the terrorists involved in the attack. "All the culprits, including the mastermind, have either been arrested or sent to hell."
Bloodbath at Sehwan shrine
On November 17, 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Department announced the arrest of Nadir Ali Jakhrani alias Murshid in a raid in the Manghopir area of Karachi. The suspect later told the interrogators that he and his group worked for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
He identified his associates as Ghulam Mustafa alias Doctor, suicide bomber Babar Brohi, Saifullah, Aijaz Bangulzai, Tanveer, Farooq Bangulzai and Zulqarnain. Mustafa, who was earlier killed in a security operation in Balochistan's district Mastung, is said to be the mastermind.
The CM contended that the resources available at the disposal of the terrorists working against Pakistan outnumber the limited resources of the provincial government. "Still, with our limited resources we are trying to ensure the best security arrangements." Shah said that after the terrorist attack in Sehwan, the security of all shrines in the province has been heightened so that the terrorists are stopped from striking against shrines again.
Four suspected Sehwan blast facilitators held
Separately, the Shia Ulema Council, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Sindh United Party and other nationalist parties also held commemorative ceremonies. The Sindh government released a sum of Rs248 million as payment of compensation to the victims and their families. Each family of the people who were killed was paid Rs1.5 million while Rs500,000 was given to each critically injured person and Rs200,000 to those who sustained minor injuries.
“A year ago today, cowards attacked Lal Shahbaz Qalandar [in] Sehwan in an effort to instill fear. The images of that night remain ingrained in my mind. But Qalandar’s fearless followers came back the next day in defiance and continue to preach peace and tolerance. [I’m] proud to be from Sehwan,” Shah said on Twitter later in the day.
Those fuelling anger over Sehwan tragedy accomplices of terrorists: Sindh CM
The CM refuted accusations of horse trading in the Senate elections against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and termed them baseless. "Those leveling such allegations are actually casting doubt on members of their own political parties."
The CM advised his parties’ political opponents to avoid doubting their own elected legislators. He reiterated that the Senate vote maintained secrecy and a member is free to cast their vote to the candidate of their choice. He said the PPP has given tickets to capable candidates to contest the Senate seats.