NOWSHERA/ GILGIT/ MANSEHRA/ PESHAWAR:
Difa-e-Pakistan Council Chairman (DPC) and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) chief Maulana Samiul Haq has called for a DPC meeting on Monday to discuss Friday’s sectarian strife in Rawalpindi. At least eight people died in clashes on Muharram 10 near Fawara Chowk.
Talking to journalists at Darul Uloom Haqqani in Akora Khattak on Saturday, Sami asked for a fair and impartial investigation into the “heinous violence” and appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice.
He expressed disappointment over the silence of the Punjab government regarding the issue.
Drone strikes, Nato supply routes and Taliban talks are also on the agenda for DPC’s meeting on Monday.
Protests took place around the province and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Saturday, referencing the incident. Leaders of various organisations reiterated demands of investigation and timely arrests of those responsible, lamenting the spike in violence.
A rally was held at Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Peshawar by members of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Protestors carried placards with inscriptions against the Punjab government for its failure to provide security.
Ulema led processions in Kohistan, Mansehra and surrounding areas. Karakoram Highway was blocked throughout the day for vehicular traffic to G-B. Protestors threatened to continue blocking routes to G-B till those responsible for Friday’s violence are not arrested.
Demonstrations erupted across Mansehra, Bafa, Shinkiari, Ogi and Balakot after midday.
The Abbottabad chapter of ASWJ, at a news conference, called for a shutter down strike for Sunday (today). The strike is said to start at 9am on Sunday and continue till midday. A procession will commence at Markazi Jamia Masjid Abbottabad and converge into a public meeting at Fawara Chowk.
Ulema in Haripur met at Masjid Kashmiriyan and condemned the violence which unfolded in Rawalpindi. A protest rally was announced for Sunday, leading from Sheranwalla Gate to GT Road.
Traffic remained suspended on main roads in Gilgit on Saturday after protestors blocked roads.
A mob burnt tyres on Airport Road and placed obstacles on Yadgar and Airport chowks, stopping traffic for at least two hours. River View Road was also blocked.
Addressing the demonstrators, Muttahida Qaumi Movement regional leader Nasiruddin termed the incident ‘unfortunate’ as most of the country remained peaceful in the first ten days of the sacred month. Another leader, Sumbol Shah, condemned the loss of innocent lives.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2013.
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