Islamabad: Angry Shia Muslims observed a
strike in Balochistan`s provincial capital Quetta on Tuesday to
protest the massacre of 29 members of the minority community
by militants even as a top Pakistani rights watchdog said the
killings had exposed the "the diminishing writ of the state".
The strike was observed in Shia-dominated areas of the
southwestern city of Quetta, including Hazara Town, Ali Town,
Alamdar Road and Marriabad. Markets and shops remained closed
and traffic was thin on roads in these areas.
Hundreds of people, including women and children,
staged demonstrations and took out rallies to protest the
killing of 29 Shias at Mastung, 40 km from Quetta, yesterday.
Twenty-six Shia pilgrims travelling to Iran were forced
out of a bus by militants and lined up before being shot.
Gunmen subsequently targeted another group of Shias
travelling to retrieve bodies on the outskirts of Quetta and
killed three men.
The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for
the attack on the bus in calls to the media in Quetta.
These were the deadliest attacks on Shias in Pakistan
since September 4 last year, when a suicide bomber killed 57
people at a rally in Quetta.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent
rights watchdog, said the killers had been emboldened by a
persistent lack of action against sectarian militant groups.
The attacks yesterday had exposed "once again the
diminishing writ of the state", it said in a statement.
"Continued sectarian bloodshed across the country...is a
direct consequence of the authorities` perpetual failure to
take note of sectarian killings in Quetta which have been
going on for many years," the HRCP said.
"The government must move beyond rhetoric and its current
casual and reactive approach to law and order challenges and
start functioning as a responsible authority," it added.