Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday vowed that the government would take action against those responsible for targeted killings and sectarian violence in Pakistan`s Balochistan province, particularly attacks on the Shia Hazara community.
Expressing regret at the killings and sectarian violence, Zardari said the "heavy hand of the government would fall on all those elements behind the attacks on members of the Hazara community". He made the remarks during a meeting with a delegation of Hazara leaders.
Zardari directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who was present in the meeting, to take up the matter with the Balochistan government and to render all possible assistance to end the "tide of violence" against the Hazaras.
The President directed authorities to take "immediate and stern actions" against those involved in attacks on Hazaras.
Dozens of Shia Hazaras have been killed in targeted attacks across Balochistan in recent weeks. In one recent incident, gunmen pulled Shia pilgrims out of a bus and gunned down nearly 30 people. The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terror
group claimed responsibility for several attacks.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said steps have been taken to protect Shia pilgrims travelling from Balochistan to Iran. The President sought a report on arrests made so far and progress in cases registered against those responsible for sectarian violence.
Zardari said that Hazaras were law abiding and patriotic citizens and it was the government`s responsibility to protect them. He asked the Hazaras not to be deterred by "the acts of a handful of vicious elements".