QUETTA: The Hazara community of Quetta is staging a sit-in on the Western Bypass for nearly 30 hours now to protest against what they term the 'persistent failure' of law enforcement authorities to provide them security in Balochistan and across Pakistan.
The sit-in commenced on Friday right after a suicide blast ripped through vegetable stalls at Quetta’s Hazar Ganji Market, martyring at least 20 people — including eight members of the Hazara community and a soldier of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) – and injuring 48 others.
Apart from police officials, Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove had also confirmed that vegetable vendors belonging to the ethnic Hazara community were the target.
Members of the community, including women and children, set tyres on fire and blocked the Western Bypass, while protests were also staged in front of the Quetta Press Club.
20 martyred as blast rips through Quetta market
As the protests continued into the night, terrorists then targeted a busy market in the border town of Chaman using an improvised explosive device, martyring one man and injuring 11 others including two FC personnel.
Three vehicles, eight motorbikes and nearby buildings were also damaged in the blast.
As the sit-in at Western Bypass entered its second day on Saturday, the protesters remained steadfast on their demands – immediate action against the perpetrators of the attacks; implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) without any discrimination; and an earnest effort by the state to fulfill its responsibility of providing security to its people.
The attacks were condemned by leaders of all political parties and there were renewed calls for a comprehensive security plan for Balochistan and proper implementation of NAP.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi also visited Quetta on Saturday. After offering prayers at the graves of the victims, he spoke to media to reiterate the federal government's resolve to bolster Balochistan's security situation.
"We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of these attacks against the Hazara community," he said.
"The PTI-led government is focused on ensuring thorough implementation of NAP and we will do everything in our power to allay the concerns of the protesters."