RAWALPINDI/ PESHAWAR/ ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI:
Demonstrators poured onto the streets in all major towns and cities of the country on Saturday to protest against Thursday’s twin bombings in Quetta that left over 100 people dead and dozens injured.
Hundreds of people rallied in Karachi to express solidarity with the Hazara community. They criticised the provincial government for its “failure” to stem the tide of sectarian killings and called for the military to take over Quetta and shield the Shia community against sectarian extremists.
The protesters vowed to continue their sit-in in Malir, Ancholi and Numaish Chowerangi till their demands were met. Near Mazar-e-Quaid, angered protesters and religious clerics demanded the resignation of Balochistan government. “Why are the chief justice and government silent?” said a protester, Farzana, while demanding the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice.
Shia protesters also staged a demonstration outside the Karachi press club, where they were joined by MQM leaders Wasey Jalil and Raza Haroon.
Speakers and participants of a protest sit-in in Islamabad’s Super Market called upon the establishment and government to take concrete action against those responsible for Thursday’s attacks.
Expressing solidarity with the victims of Quetta’s Hazara community, members of civil society, politicians and student organisations vowed to continue to raise voice against such “brutalities” and continue their protest for as long as the sit-in in Quetta continues.
“Today we are downcast and ashamed that we could not save our citizens and it was not for the first time they are ignored,” said Awami National Party lawmaker Bushra Gohar.
Defense analyst Ayesha Siddiqa also spoke at occasion. “Even Malik Ishaq, the main culprit behind all this chaos and anarchy, is free to kill and dump,” she said.
Protesters under the umbrella of Shia organisation Majlis-e-Wahad ul-Muslimeen blocked the Islamabad Expressway over the government’s “inaction” to address the grievances of the affected families.
Over 200 protesters, including women and children, blocked the busy highway Saturday evening, chanting slogans against the federal government and Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani.
MWM deputy secretary general Allam Amin Mushadhi demanded Quetta be handed over to Pakistan Army, saying that the civilian set-up has failed to secure the lives of citizens.
Protesters in Lahore, Quetta and Karachi took to the streets to protest the bloody sectarian assault against Shias on Alamdar Road, Quetta on January 10. PHOTO: ONLINE / PPI
Two different protests were held in Lahore against the Quetta attacks on Saturday. Protesters demanded the federal government provide protection to the Shia community and take action against the Balochistan government over its inability to protect lives. They also called for the army to immediately take over the province. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan also participated in one of the protests briefly.
A dozen members of Majlis-e-Wahad ul-Muslimeen staged a demonstration outside the Governor House in the evening, which grew to the strength of a thousand by nightfall. Another protest called by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies was held at Liberty roundabout. Some hundred students from different universities protested against the Hazara killings.
Political and religious organisations held a demonstration at the Peshawar press club to protest against the “persecution” of Shias in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as in Balochistan.
While condemning target killings of members of the Shia community, protesters also highlighted the attacks in Quetta. (With reporting by Rabia Ali in Karachi, Abdur Rauf in Peshawar Riazul Haq in Islamabad, Mudassir Raja in Rawalpindi, Rameez Khan in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2013.