NEW YORK: The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Saturday in which it urged the Pakistani government to protect Shia Muslims during the holy month of Muharram.
The report outlines concerns for possible attacks on Shia processions during the 9th and 10th of Muharram, and mentions the deadly attack on a Shia procession in Karachi in December 2009 that left 30 dead.
“Shia (community) in Pakistan should be able to participate in Ashura processions without fear of attack,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Pakistani authorities need to address the severe danger faced by the Shia population with all necessary security measures. They can start by arresting extremist group members responsible for past attacks.”
The organisation has recorded at least 18 sectarian attacks on the community in 2011. According to the report, at least 275 Shias, mostly of Hazara ethnicity, have been killed in sectarian attacks in the southwestern province of Balochistan alone since 2008.
“The ongoing targeted killings of Shia send a chilling message to all Pakistanis that their government won’t necessarily act to protect them,” Adams said. “The government’s failure to break up the extremist groups that carry out these attacks calls into question its commitment to protect all of its citizens.”
The report states that the organization has approached the Pakistani government to take action for sectarian violence.
“Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders should recognize that their tolerance for extremist groups is killing their own citizens,” Adams said. ”They need to stop appeasing extremists and start holding them accountable.”
The government has increased security all over Pakistan for Ashura processions in the coming week.