Amid widening Shia-Sunni rift, Gilgit wore a deserted look on Thursday after a strike called by Ahl-e-Sunna Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Gilgit-Baltistan.
The strike was called in reaction to the arrest of Maulana Saqib, the president of ASWJ Gilgit, the previous day for his alleged involvement in sectarian violence.
Saqib was taken into custody for his alleged role in a firing incident in Basin earlier this month.
The police had also arrested six other people from Napur in the murder of a Shia man.
In Ghizer, Astore and Chilas valleys, protestors blocked roads with boulders and burnt tyres demanding the release of the cleric.
Attendance in schools and government offices was low and traffic remained thin as people stayed home due to fear of violence. Most markets and business centres remained closed in the capital city.
Gilgit has witnessed continued tension in the wake of the Kohistan bus massacre, in which 16 Shias were killed on the Karakoram Highway.
“The government should stop taking one-sided measures against us; it is highly prejudicial and discriminatory,” said Qazi Nisar Ahmed, a cleric, while addressing a large gathering at the central mosque.
He warned the government of more strikes in other parts of the region if the arrested persons were not released.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ