KARACHI, Jan 12: Protest demonstrations broke out across Sindh on Saturday against the Thursday bomb attacks on Shia community members in Quetta, where more than 100 people were killed, as hundreds of protesters in major cities of the province staged sits-in and vowed to continue to agitate until their demands, mainly military action against terrorist outfits, were met.
Anger ran high from Karachi to Kashmore, where Shia organisations took out protest rallies, staged sits-in and held press conferences to condemn Thursday’s attacks on Alamdar Road in Quetta on Hazara Shias – the community that has been repeatedly targeted for the past more than four years.
In Karachi dozens of charged youths staged a sit-in on the main Malir 15 traffic intersection that blocked the link between Sharea Faisal and the National Highway. The protesters were later joined by many other people, including women and children, who chanted slogans against brutality and demanded government action against sectarian violence.
The sit-in that continued for more than two hours remained peaceful, but it badly affected traffic flow on Sharea Faisal and for some time suspended vehicle movement from the airport to Quaidabad. The protesters later dispersed peacefully.
In the evening, hundreds of people, including women and children, converged at the Numaish intersection to stage ‘a sit-in for an indefinite period’. It was organised mainly by the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen and joined by the Shia Ulema Council, Jafria Alliance, Imamia Student Organisation and Jafria Student Organisation.
Shia clerics in their speeches questioned the role of the Balochistan as well as the federal government and said their administrations had failed to ensure safety of the people’s life and property.
“If someone is really concerned about our security and the situation we are facing, it must be reflected in their actions,” said Maulana Nazir Taqi, a senior leader of the MWM. “It’s so unfortunate that the presence of hundreds of women and children in cold weather in Quetta and here has not moved the authorities. These protesters want peace not violence or bloodshed. So the protest is the only option left for us to convey our concerns, and we will continue it.”
A protest demonstration was held at Incholi also.
A number of organisations in Hyderabad also held protest demonstrations, attended by hundreds of people, on Waduwah Road in Kazimabad and then staged a sit-in near the Qasimabad Bypass. They vowed to continue to protest till the deadlock was resolved.
Hyderabad general secretary of the MWM Abul Hasan Murtazvi spoke to the participants in the sit-in. The protest was later joined in by the Jafria Alliance’s Allama Abbas Kumaili, who had earlier addressed a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club, warning that the boycott of the upcoming general election could be an option if their concerns were not addressed.
“Some external elements want to impose their brand of Islam on Pakistan as shrines of Sufi saints were also being attacked,” he said. “We will not renounce our beliefs at any cost and we are not afraid of martyrdom. The boycott of the general election is an option as we can no longer tolerate terrorism.”
In Thatta, the Shia Ittehad and Ghualman-i-Abbas condemned the Quetta terror attacks and announced that they would hold protest rallies on Sunday.
In their statements, the Shia organisations held the security administration responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people and demanded the removal of the provincial government.
Shia organisaitons staged a sit-in on the National Highway near the Moro bypass, which was joined by the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz and other local organisations.
The protest was led by Allama Mukhtiar Ahmed Imami, Sajjad Ali Shah, Maulana Ghulam Akbar Lasari, Jagdesh Kumar, Yasin Mallah and Khan Soomro, who vowed to continue the sit-in till the demands of the Quetta protesters were met.
Protest demonstrations and sits-in were staged in Sukkur, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Kandhkot-Kashmore districts against the killing of more than 100 people in Quetta.
In Jacobabad, a procession was taken out from the Central Imambargah, which was led by Fazal Abbas Shah, Asif Pathan, Ali Raza and Bachal Tunio.
After marching on different roads, the procession reached in front of the press club, where the participants staged a sit-in and raised slogans. The DC office road was blocked and flow of vehicular traffic suspended for some time.
Speaking on the occasion, Shia leaders demanded that the government immediately arrest culprits involved in the Quetta killings and take severe action against them.
They also demanded that Quetta be handed over to the army immediately for the security of the Shia community and compensation be paid to the heirs of the victims.
At the Baberloi bypass, between Sukkur and Khairpur, Shia community people blocked the National Highway.
The protest and sit-in was led by provincial leader of the MWM Abdullah Mutahari, ISO divisional president Saeed Ahmed, general secretary of the Shia Action Committee Allama Ali Bux Sajjadi and the Shia Ulema Council.
In Mirpur Mathelo, Ghotki district, the ISO led by Ali Hassan Korai, Naveed Malano and Naseer Shah blocked the National Highway near the Motorway police office against the Quetta killings. They demanded immediate arrest of culprits and provision of security to the Shia people in Balochistan.
Protest demonstrations were also held in Kandhkot and Shikarpur.