Unbowed Hazaras refuse to bury dead

Published Feb 18, 2013 08:05pm

Hazara-blast-6702
Shias holds a placard during a sit in protest against Saturday's bomb attack in Quetta's Shi'ite Muslim area, in Karachi February 18, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

Protests against massacre disrupt train, air services: Unbowed Hazaras refuse to bury dead 

KARACHI: Anger and outrage replaced shock and grief as tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Monday to protest over the mass killing of Shia Hazaras in the suicide attack in Quetta three days ago.

From Karachi to Parachinar, and Hyderabad to Multan, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, people staged sit-ins, blocking main thoroughfares.

The protesters’ demand at all these places was the same: call in the army in Quetta and take immediate action against the extremist militant group, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, which in recent months has played havoc with Shias, mainly the peaceful Hazara community of Balochistan, through a string of attacks.

The majority of these protesters were Shia men and women, but at many places a large number of people from a cross-section of society joined in to make it a collective voice against violent extremism.

As expected, Quetta remained the most disturbed of all places, with thousands of Hazara men, women and children continuing their protest sit-in for the third consecutive day. Refusing to bury those who died in Saturday’s explosion on Kirani Road, Hazara Town, unless action was taken against the perpetrators, the protesters kept the coffins on the main street.Even a bitter weather was not enough to weaken the agitators’ resolve.

“Installation of lights and other arrangements indicate that we are ready to stay here till the government meets our demands and takes measures to stop Shia genocide,” a representative of the community said.

Nearby, Hazara volunteers kept digging more graves as the death toll rose to 89 after a few more of the injured died on Monday.

The volunteers were not sure how many more graves they may end up digging as several of the over two hundred injured in the incident continued to remain on the list of those critically injured.

An air of fear and uncertainty hung over the Balochistan capital, already reeling from an endless wave of bombings over the past few years. Traffic was negligible and most places of business remained closed.

Heavy contingents of law enforcement personnel were posted at all sensitive points in the city and patrolling stepped up.

Representatives of the Hazara community told Dawn that 73 bodies, 16 of them of women, had been identified. “Most of the bodies were of children and women and some were badly burnt,” one of them said.

The administration was unable to shift the critically injured to Karachi as most of the roads remained blocked the whole day. President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf had asked the Balochistan government to send them to Karachi for special treatment.

PUTTING THEIR HEADS TOGETHER: The Hazara Town tragedy and the protesters’ demand were reviewed at a meeting at the Governor’s House. It was presided over by Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi and attended, among others, by the Commander of the Southern Command, Lt Gen Aalam Khattak, Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad, Frontier Corps IG Maj Gen Obaidullah Khattak, Police IG Tariq Omar Khitab and Home Secretary Captain (retd) Akbar Hussain Durrani.

“As the participants were unable to reach a consensus on calling in troops, they decided to approach the protesters with a request for burial of the victims after giving them an assurance that an operation against perpetrators of Saturday’s explosion on Kirani Road and on Alamdar Road (Jan 10) would be launched by law enforcement agencies, including the Frontier Corps,” an official said.

Home Secretary Akbar Durrani told a press conference after the meeting that the death toll had shot up to 89 after five injured people, including a child, died on Monday. He said 110 injured people were being treated at the CMH and 44 at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Hospital.

“The dead include 33 Afghan refugees,” the secretary said, adding that 55 refugees who lived in the area were injured.

Quoting from an initial report of the bomb disposal squad, he said about 1,000 kilograms of explosives, along with urea fertiliser, potassium and sulphuric acid (all easily available in the market), might have been used to trigger an improvised explosive device (IED).

“The terrorists used an unconventional method to carry out the blast. We are in a state of war,” the official said.

In reply to a question, Akbar Durrani said a decision to hand over Quetta to the army had not been taken so far and the paramilitary FC, which was a part of the army, would continue to play its role to maintain peace and order.

“Some hidden hands want to destabilise the country by engineering a Sunni-Shia conflict,” he said.

He said a committee, headed by Quetta Commissioner Qambar Dashti, would hold talks with leaders of Shia organisations to persuade them to bury the victims.

The home secretary said the government would pay compensation to the bereaved families immediately.

He urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide financial support to the families of Afghan refugees who lost their lives or sustained injuries in Saturday’s attack.

PLEA TO DOCTORS: Balochistan Health Secretary Nasibullah Bazai said 19 of the injured were in a critical condition and the provincial government was bearing expenses of their treatment.

He called upon doctors working in government hospitals to ensure their presence, saying that bomb blast victims were suffering because of their absence from duty.

In reply to a question, Mr Bazai said the district administration was being empowered to take action against elements involved in the sale of fake and spurious medicines.

Speaking to the protesters, Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen leader Allama Amin Shahidi said: “We will not bury the victims until an army operation against the banned groups is authorised.”

He urged the administration to shift the critically injured to Karachi immediately.

“Since law enforcement agencies have failed to ensure safety of life and property, people should be issued arms licences and the training to use them,” he said in a moment of undisguised disdain for officialdom..

KARACHI: The angry response to Quetta killings was widespread in Karachi and throughout the day people continued to block main roads by staging sit-in at more than a dozen places.

Right from the Shahrae Faisal to Clifton, at Teen Talwar, protesters refused to leave till our going to press. Train service for upcountry was badly disrupted as an enraged mob blocked the track near Malir, and several flights got delayed because roads leading to the airport were blocked by the enraged crowd.

In the evening violence broke out in Patel Para, near Guru Mandir, following a shootout in which three people were killed, including members of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and ANP.

Clashes between armed men and police continued till late in the night, with supporters of ASWJ resorting to violence.

Our Staff Reporter in Lahore adds: Rail traffic came to a halt after operation of all major passenger trains had to be suspended in the wake of countrywide protests against the Quetta explosion.

“Operation of 11 express trains from Karachi has been suspended, another six from Lahore will not be operated on Tuesday, while five will not leave Rawalpindi and Peshawar on Wednesday,” a railway spokesman said.

Agencies add: Demonstrations were also held in Islamabad, Peshawar, Hyderabad and a number of other cities and towns across the country.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced that a day of mourning would be observed on Tuesday.

COMPILED FROM REPORTS SENT BY STAFF REPORTERS AND DISTRICT CORRESPONDENTS FROM SEVERAL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.


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Comments (21) (Closed)


Tojo
Feb 19, 2013 05:36am
The situation is insane. Muslims killing Muslims; Pakistanis killing Pakistanis. This is not what Islam teaches Muslims. There are calls in the Quran for tolerance. It is not just the Army that can stop such senseless killings but the entire people of Pakistan must arise in unison, otherwise we are looking to a total destruction of the society. I am not a Sunni or a Shia, Ismaili, Bohri, Ahmadie, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist. Just an ordinary God- fearing and believing human being. "Get rid of the terrorists and the anarchists from Pakistan" is what I say to the Pakistanis and save your country from foreign occupation. The enemy is very close. Beware!
ummemuhammed
Feb 19, 2013 05:26am
Asalamo Alykum, I fail to understand what stops the government to crackdown on the perpetrators of the Quetta bombings. They did not stop short of persecuting the die-hard, sincere Mujahideen of the Afghan Jihad upon America's beck and call. Then, what stops them from dismantling the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who apparently have claimed responsibility of the Quetta carnage? I also fail to understand what version of Islam authenticates killing people of another sect? What logic or argument do they have? Or could it be that the government know that these blasts are actually being done by foreign terrorist organizations like Blackwater and therefore do not know how to handle the situation? Whoever is doing it, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Blackwater, they should be annihilated completely and given the capital punishment as a lesson to other potential miscreants. Hazaras, I am so sorry, but this sorry is not enough. We need hard action and as a citizen, I demand it of our government. I would also encourage others to write for it to our government at the following email addresses...assembly@na.gov.pk, speaker@na.gov.pk, info@senate.gov.pk, chairman@senate.gov.pk, secretary@cabinet.gov.pk, pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk, publicmail@president.gov.pk and mail@supremecourt.gov.pk. Wsalam.
Do Something
Feb 19, 2013 02:24am
It is quite apparent even to the blind that present government and the state machinery, including the two major political parties in office have completely failed the nation! By claiming responsibility of this heinous act, the perpetrators have identified themselves in the most brazen, blatant and in your face manner. So the incompetent and uneducated in government and politics don't have to strain their perverted brains, it Now the responsibility of the state to act! Where are CJ Chaudhry and Mr. Kayani? If you both fail to act now, then you both are equally responsible for your criminal dereliction of duty! All the member of the banned outfit should be chased from mountains of the country to the seashore to apprehend not only those who carried out this Heinous act, but More importantly those who conspired, those who aided and abetted in carrying out this crime against humanity! To the state: please triple security around Imran Khan NOW! Remember Martin Luther King's words," injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere."
Sam
Feb 19, 2013 04:54am
I am from India and I am curious to know why everyday innocent shites are getting bombed/killed in pakistan? What exactly is the issue?? I am interested in genuine response, so pl avoid slanderous remarks which serves no purpose to addressing the core of the issue.....
Qaiser Bakhtiari
Feb 19, 2013 04:55am
Shias are 20% approx of Pakistan. How can a body function if 20% of it is paralyzed. It is pertinent that everyone in Pakistan understand that the existence of this nations hinders upon the survival and prosperity of each member of its society.
Tabish Bilgrami
Feb 19, 2013 04:25am
Its time to come out on streets..... There will be no stopping.. Everyone's turn will come.. After Shias Muslims, Sunni Muslims too will be targetted. We seem to have a short memory. How can we forget what Taliban did to graves of Sunni Muslims in Swat..... These extremists are not Muslims.. Rather its a shame to call them human even,,
hina
Feb 19, 2013 03:44am
Pakistan must stop violence at all cost whether it is groups or government or USA.
JAVED RAHMAN
Feb 19, 2013 03:08am
Zardhari stop shias genocide , or resign.
Zaim Raza
Feb 19, 2013 02:52am
where is zardari in this whole discussion. he is busy in lotting.
zak
Feb 19, 2013 02:45am
i fail to understand as to why Quetta cannot be given under Army if the civilian government has not been able to control the murder of its citizens, time and again and in sizeable numbers too. In broader sense, if you are unable to control fire (in kitchen / bedroom/ lounge) in your own home, you call in the fire brigade and not wait till it gets beyond controlling ! We as a nation cannot afford to have this go on any further !
Do something
Feb 19, 2013 02:27am
The country is spinning out of control, and we hear nonsense from all the champions of democracy. This is not democracy, this is a criminal enterprise behind the facade of democracy! Get your house in order, else others WILL do it!!!
Shahpur
Feb 19, 2013 02:22am
Pakistan is a Tribal Society, no body is going to give Shias on a Silver Plater anything. Like other groups they have to stand up and fight for their fair share of this land.
Fawad
Feb 19, 2013 02:15am
No matter what u think, it is obvious that pakistan itself is being destroyed. The murder/ massare of innocent women, children and non combatants is absolutely rejected in Islam, then whose Islam is this? And who are these animals and why are they not being caught? If this is their Islam I don't want to be called muslim call me whatever or give them a different name.
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 19, 2013 03:10am
What happened to that silly move of bringing governor's rule to stop Shia's genocide? No I hope the next move would not be that silly.
Dilawer
Feb 19, 2013 05:35am
Enough is enough. Time to demand security and end to extremism on all sides.
Yawar
Feb 19, 2013 03:32am
It is amazing that the nation including politicians can unite against Shahrukh Jatoi committing one murder. However, when it comes to terrorists engaged in committing genocide we are reluctant to hold them responsible and start pointing our fingers elsewhere.
omer khan shaheen
Feb 19, 2013 06:08am
This is not about Shia or Sunni neither should we make it an ethnic issue. It is about the mass murder of innocent people. We have to work together!!! to put a stop to this and drag the culprits to national and international criminal courts.
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 19, 2013 02:23pm
I just read the latest news, the "muk muka" was successful.
Agha Ata (USA)
Feb 19, 2013 01:58pm
News: Unbowed Hazaras refuse to bury dead; unbowed government refuse to bring army in Queta, unbowed army refuse to take any serious action, but six-member parliamentary delegation opened negotiations on Tuesday with the Quetta sit-in participants. I am shocked to read the word
Syed
Feb 19, 2013 10:38am
Syed Mohammad Mosevi, Former Chairmen Jirga Sahadat, President Pakistan Hazara Sport Federation and Chairman Hazara Society of Norway has strongly condemned the killings of Hazara people in a terrorist hit in Quetta, and blamed the government for utter failure in discharging its duty of protection of the citizens of Pakistan. Although generally all the Shias were the target of terrorists, the Persian-speaking people of this community were particularly being targeted since 14 years, while the government till date had adopted no measure to ensure their safety, despite the fact that it was not the first such incident. Syed Mosevi said a number of terrorist attacks had taken place in the past, wherein the Shias were the target.
karim
Feb 20, 2013 06:14pm
Shias are being targeted by anti-Shia terrorists like Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. We can thank Zia ul Haq's war in Afghanistan for bringing this militancy culture into Pakistan.