QUETTA: Despite the pouring rain, members of the Hazara community continued their sit-in at the city’s Western Bypass for the third day to protest against Friday’s suicide attack at Hazar Ganji Blast which killed 20 people including ten members belonging to the ethnic Hazara community.
The protesters were joined by the leaders of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) on Sunday as they demanded from Prime Minister Imran Khan to come to Quetta and assure them that the National Action Plan (NAP) would be fully implemented across the country against armed groups targeting innocent people.
The protesters, including women and children, blocked the Western Bypass for the third consecutive day, to protest against the latest incident against the community which has already lost more than 500 people in similar targeted attacks in the last two decades.
Despite numerous rounds of talks with provincial government officials, the protesters have refused to end their sit-in until they get a guarantee from the federal government that terrorist attacks won’t be repeated against Hazara community.
“We are forced to live in barricaded areas of Hazara Town and Marriabad because our right to life has been snatched from us. We don’t have access to education and health as we can’t move freely in the city,” said Zahra, a young protester.
Repeating calls for the prime minister to visit the community, she cited the example of a New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “Despite being a Christian woman, she visited the mosques in Christchurch and stood with the Muslim community stricken by a terrorist attack,” she said referring to the incident in which a gunman killed 50 people.
“Ironically, despite living in a Muslim state, our prime minister is not able to come here and heal the wounds of the Hazara community. His claims of running Pakistan on the lines of state of Madina ring hollow,” Zahra said, adding that the protest would continue until the arrival of the PM Imran.
The local leaders of the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen party, who joined the protesters, later held a press conference in which they demanded of the government to ensure implementation on the NAP. “Attacks against the Hazara community is giving the message to the world that Pakistan is not a safe place for minorities,” they said.
“People of Quetta do not feel secure and safe. It isn’t just ordinary people who are in danger. Security personnel have also been martyred in such attacks, and it raises serious question regarding the capabilities of the provincial government and the State,” the party’s central secretary general, Allama Raja Nasir Abbas, said. He added that it was imperative for the state to take concentrated action as members of minority communities have ‘are tired of lifting the coffins of our loved ones’.