Despite assurances by the chief minister to meet all the demands of the Shia Ulema Council in connection with the Jacobabad bomb blast, various Shia organisations have given a seven-day ultimatum to the government to meet their demands.
The number of martyrs in the blast went up to 26 on Saturday. Following the suicide attack on the mourning procession on Muharam 9 in Larshari Muhalla, which had claimed 22 lives and left more than 30 injured on the spot, various Shia organisations staged a sit-in at DC Chowk along with the dead bodies. They demanded that the Jacobabad SSP be removed and the culprits be arrested. They further demanded that a drastic operation be launched in Larkana division against terrorists.
On Saturday, two members of the Sindh cabinet, Nasir Hussain Shah and Mumtaz Jakhrani, met leaders of the Shia organisations, Shia Ulema Council and Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen. During negotiations, which were held in the DC office, the Shia ulema demanded immediate removal of the Jacobabad SSP, whose poor performance, according to them, had led to the suicide attack. They reiterated the demand to arrest the culprits, besides launching a Zarb-e-Azb-like operation in Larkana division against the terrorists and their facilitators.
According to sources, the ministers told the protesting ulema that it would be difficult for them to change the SSP without the approval of Election Commission of Pakistan as the local government elections were just around the corner. With the protesting Shias insisting on their demand regarding the removal of the SSP, talks between the two parties remained futile. Subsequently, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah was informed about the situation. He immediately reached there and negotitated with the protesters, which continued for around three hours.
The chief minister assured the protesters of all efforts to curb terrorist activities in the area, besides announcing compensation of Rs2 million for every martyr, Rs1 million for the severely injured and a government job and Rs200,000 for the mourners with minor injuries. He also assured them of removing the SSP and launching an operation against the terrorists, besides constituting a judicial commission to investigate the bombing. Following his assurances, the sit-in was called off and the deceased were buried.
Speaking to the media later, Qaim Ali Shah said that fool-proof security measures were taken throughout Sindh keeping in view the possibility of terrorist attacks, but it is almost impossible to stop the suicide attacks.
He said that two committees have been formed to investigate the matter, after which strict action will be taken against those found responsible. He also said that thecase will be referred to the military courts.
On the other hand, a leader of the Shia Ulema Council, Allama Maqsood Domki, said while talking to The Express Tribune that 60 people were killed in a bomb blast in Imambargah Karbala Maula, Shikarpur, nine months ago and the CM had promised to launch an operation against the terrorists. That has yet to be started. "We want the government to launch an extensive operation throughout Larkana division in accordance with the decision of the apex committee," he said. "There are nurseries of terrorism, besides sleeper cells of the banned outfits in Larkana division, which need to be uprooted. We have given one week to the government to fulfil our demands and if the government fails to do so, we will launch a strong protest movement."
When contacted, Jacobabad deputy commissioner Raja Shahzaman Khuhro said that the Shia ulema have established a camp at DC Chowk, where people from all walks of life are coming to offer condolences. He made it clear that it is not a sit-in as is being aired by some electronic media. He added that the sit-in was called off after talks with the CM.
Four of the injured breathed their last on Saturday, taking the death toll to 26. Some of the severely injured are under treatment at Air Force Hospital at Shahbaz Air Base, while 11 of them were flown to Karachi on Saturday evening.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2015.