LAHORE, Jan 13: Showing solidarity with the Hazaras of Quetta, members of the Shia community continued their sit-in in front of the Governor’s House on Sunday, also blocking the motorway at Thokar Niaz Beg and G T Road near Imamia Colony.
A good number of women, children and the old are among the protesters who started gathering in front of the Governor’s House early on Saturday. Their number continued to swell and their leaders refused a negotiation offer by Governor Ahmad Mahmood on the ground that the government should talk to the main leadership in Quetta where members of the Hazara community are not burying bodies of their 86 members killed in two bomb blasts there on Thursday. They are demanding army to take over Quetta, and dismissal of the provincial government.
The demonstrators in front of the Governor’s House and at Thokar Niaz Beg and Imamia Colony carried banners and placards, condemning the killings in Quetta and demanding action against the killers. They also raised slogans and beat their chests to mourn the dead. Mazahar Shigri of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen said similar sit-ins and protests were being staged all over the province to show solidarity with Hazara Shias of Quetta.
And in a telephonic address from Quetta, the body’s main leader Allama Nasir Abbas Jafri urged the authorities concerned to accept the demands of the Hazaras till Monday otherwise the leadership would not be able to control the grief-stricken Shia community all over the country.
Traffic remained blocked on The Mall, G T Road and Multan Road because of the sit-ins being staged at the three points. There were long queues of vehicles at the entry point of the motorway on Multan Road and G T Road, causing a great deal of inconvenience for people. The closure of Multan Road, motorway and G T Road caused a chain reaction within the city, also generating traffic jams on the adjoining roads despite the weekly holiday.
The organisers of the sit-in in Imamia Colony however allowed caravan of Dr Tahirul Qadri to pass.
Except for the ruling PPP and the PML-N, leaders of different organisations and political parties showed their solidarity with those staging sit-in in front of the Governor’s House.
Mr Safdar Abbas of All Pakistan Muslim League and Abdul Haseeb of Sunni Ittehad Council and others also spoke on the occasion, condemning the killing, and the government for, what they said, showing indifference to those sitting in the open in sub-zero temperatures in Quetta alongwith bodies of their dear ones for the past three days.
In his telephonic speech Allama Nazir Abbas Rizvi asked people of the country, army, civil society, religious and political parties, media and the judiciary why they were silent over the killings and the consequent sit-in in Quetta. He asked as to why those in the saddle wanted to defame Pakistan by not coming to the assistance of the Hazara community.
The protests so far had been peaceful but it would no longer be possible for the leadership to control the Shia community if the demands of the Quetta Hazaras were not met by Monday, he said, asking the authorities why they were pushing the country towards a civil war.
The protests by the Shia community and the long march by Dr Tahirul Qadri and the resultant road blocks sent a wave of concern in the city. Repeated power loadshedding and suspension of the cable TV network kept people in the dark about the happenings in the country and in the city which they were so eager to know.
In the meantime, a majority of the traders in Lahore have announced closure of their markets on Monday to show solidarity with the Hazara Shias.