Shias in Quetta refuse to bury victims; demand Army control



Islamabad: Hundreds of minority Shia Hazaras continued their sit-in protest for a second day in southwest Pakistan's terror-hit Quetta, refusing to bury the over 80 victims of bomb attacks till the Army takes control of the city to improve security.

Protesters from the vulnerable community, including women, children and the elderly, joined a sit-in at Alamdar Road, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood where 92 people were killed in bomb blasts on Thursday.

They huddled around more than 80 bodies, most of them wrapped in white shrouds and covered with plastic sheets to protect them from the rain.

Though the protest began over 20 hours ago, Hazara Shia leaders complained that no ministers of the Balochistan government or elected representatives had met them to express solidarity or to discuss their demands.

Many protesters shouted slogans against the government and the militant groups that have been targeting the Shias.

The protesters were wrapped in shawls as they sat through the night in the biting cold and rain.

Many woman clad in black broke down and wept while children and youth lit candles to pay tributes to the victims of the bombings.

Shia leaders have demanded that control of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, should be handed over to the army as the provincial government had failed to stop attacks by notorious sectarian groups like the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks.

A spokesman of the Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, a leading Shia group, told the media that the dead would not be buried till the community's demands are accepted.

Maulana Amin Shaheedi, a leader of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen told a news conference that it was time the Army chief took note of the bloodshed being carried out in the province and the way Shias particularly from the Hazara community were being mercilessly targeted by banned extremist outfits.

"My question to the Army chief is that although he has got a extension of three years as Army chief what have you done to protect the Shias of Pakistan. Tragically the attacks on Shias have only increased in the last three years," he said.

The Pakistan government and intelligence agencies routinely blame the Indian government and its spy agency of formenting trouble in the province by providing arms and support to militants and separatist outfits.

But Maulana Shaheedi said the attacks were being carried out by banned outfits like Lashkar-e-Jangvi (LeJ) and others who had no fear of being caught or punished.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it could feel the outrage of the Shia community as their people had been brutally targeted for last many years specially in Baluchistan. "The situation is really bad there only last year around 500 Shias mainly from the Hazara community were killed in the province," a official of the organisation said. Danyal Hasan of the Human Rights Watch also said the minority communities particularly Shia's belonging to the Hazara community were living in great fear.

PTI