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Nawaz Sharif pulls up officials over sectarian violence

PTI | Last Updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 19:45

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday pulled up the local administration and police for sectarian clashes in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi and ordered a crackdown on those responsible for the violence that claimed 11 lives.

Chairing a high-level meeting on the security situation, Sharif said the administration and police kept quiet on the spreading of "sectarian hatred" through loudspeakers and graffiti.

What happened in Rawalpindi last week was "criminal inaction" and law enforcement personnel should not show any slackness, he said.

Sharif directed police to fix "responsibility of criminal negligence by carrying out fair and neutral investigation into the Rawalpindi incident", said a statement from the premier`s office. He directed them to take "strict action" against those who have no regard for law and order.

"Speech inciting hatred, stone pelting and firing are unacceptable crimes. The criminal silence on the part of administration and police on the propagation of sectarian hatred through loudspeakers and wall chalking would not be tolerated," Sharif was?quoted as saying by sources.

The "fatwa machinery", which has never?been stopped, is responsible for creating "monsters", he further said.
Sharif said one-sided action in Rawalpindi was unacceptable. Hate speeches and stone pelting are equally criminal, he added.

Noting the "negative role played by the social media" during the clashes? Sharif directed authorities to present a draft cyber law to tackle such matters "within days".

Punjab Police chief Khan Baig briefed the premier about Friday`s clashes that left 11 dead and 56 injured. He said there were no missing persons and nine suspects were arrested after being identified from video footage of the clashes.

Baig admitted to the failure of the local police leadership, the statement said. The violence erupted when a Muharram procession by Shias was passing by a Sunni madrassa. Following an altercation, the two groups clashed and exchanged fire. A nearby market was also torched. Sectarian tensions later spread to other cities in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam and Intelligence Bureau head Aftab Sultan attended the meeting.
This was the first time in years that curfew was imposed in Rawalpindi, which houses the army headquarters. The minority Shia community has often been the target of deadly violence perpetuated by Sunni extremist groups and the Taliban. At many places across Pakistan, one can see graffiti abusing Shias.

First Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 19:45
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