Protests across country over Mastung tragedy

Published January 23, 2014
A woman cries during a rally to condemn Tuesday's killings of Shia Muslims, in Karachi, Pakistan. — Photo by AP
A woman cries during a rally to condemn Tuesday's killings of Shia Muslims, in Karachi, Pakistan. — Photo by AP
Shia Muslims stage a protest against the killing of their community members in an overnight bombing, in Lahore on January 22, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Shia Muslims stage a protest against the killing of their community members in an overnight bombing, in Lahore on January 22, 2014. — Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Protesters, including women and children, were holding sit-ins across the country Thursday, including Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and Hyderabad to voice anguish at the deadly suicide attack on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims in Mastung that claimed more than 25 lives.

The people of the Hazara Shia community carried the coffins of the pilgrims killed in the Mastung bomb attack and continued their sit-in on Alamdar road in Quetta on the second consecutive day.

“Our sit-in on Shuhadaa Chowk Alamdar Road will continue and we will not bury the dead until an operation is launched against the culprits who attacked and killed the pilgrims in the Dringer area of Mastung district,” said Syed Musarrat Agha, the Acting President of Balochistan Shia Conference.

Speaking to media representatives, Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) leaders Abdul Hassan Hazara and Mirza Hussain Hazara said that sectarianism was being promoted through a planned conspiracy to push Balochistan into anarchy-like situation. “If the authorities do not take notice of the sectarian killings immediately, the situation will further deteriorate,” they said.

Official sources said Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch had instructed the concerned authorities to plan an alternative and safe route for the pilgrims to visit Iran from Balochistan.

“The senior officials have been asked to review the options whether Shia pilgrims of Balochistan be taken to Iran through the Karachi-Gwadar route or ferry service from Karachi and Gwadar ports to Bandar Abbas Port of Iran be started,” they said, adding that “the Quetta-Taftan route might be closed for the pilgrims” travelling due to high security risk.

Meanwhile, PM Nawaz has directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervez Rashid to reach Quetta immediately and hold negotiations with the Shia community to end the protests.

In Lahore, the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) protesters were holding a sit-in on Mall Road. Following consultations between the MWM and the administration, one track of Lahore’s Mall Road was opened for traffic whereas protests were underway on the other track. In view of the prevailing situation, security has been beefed up and additional police personnel have been deployed.

MWM protesters have refused to end the protests and said the decision to call it off rested in the hands of Quetta demonstrators.

The protesters furthermore said they did not want to cause any trouble to the general public but at the same time demanded that the federal government should ensure security of civilians.

Meanwhile, large numbers of demonstrators were protesting against the Mastung attack in the Faizabad area of the federal capital and have also demanded a quick operation against terrorists.

Members of civil society also staged a vigil outside the Press Club in Islamabad earlier on Wednesday night.

Shia organisations also arranged protests at several locations of Karachi whereas the flow of traffic was blocked in Ancholi, Malir, Shah Faisal, Qayyumabad, Hino Chowk Flyover and Numaish Chowrangi areas.

Karachi’s chairman of the Private Schools Management Association, Sharafuz Zaman, said that schools would remain closed today in those areas where roads were blocked.

Sit-ins staged on different patches of the metropolis' major artery Shahrah-e-Faisal had left residents of localities beyond the city's airport almost stranded.

Shahrah-e-Pakistan that connects Karachi with other parts of the province through Super Highway was another affected area, compelling people from parts of the Federal B Area and Abul Ispahani Road to remain indoor, with all businesses almost closed.

Due to the closure of main roads, traffic was suspended and flight schedules were affected.

Hundreds of people were also taking part in a solidarity sit-in organised in Multan. Security was tightened up in view of the protest.

Earlier on Tuesday, over 25 people were killed and dozens injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a bus carrying Shia pilgrims in Balochistan's militancy-hit Mastung district.

The banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, which it described as a suicide bombing, and warned of more such attacks.

Last year, thousands of mourners staged a three-day sit-in from Jan 10 to 13 in the aftermath of twin-bombings that had left over 100 people dead.

Opinion

Editorial

Khorasani’s killing
11 Aug, 2022

Khorasani’s killing

OMAR Khalid Khorasani, a dreaded TTP ‘commander’, lived by the sword and very much died by the sword. But beyond...
Gross overreaction
Updated 11 Aug, 2022

Gross overreaction

The government has already done considerable damage to itself with its indelicate handling of the situation.
Dadu deaths
11 Aug, 2022

Dadu deaths

DISEASES that are usually mild and preventable in countries with developed healthcare systems often prove to be...
Beyond the pale
Updated 09 Aug, 2022

Beyond the pale

When such ugliness is unleashed, everyone at some point suffers the fallout.
Burying Gaza
Updated 10 Aug, 2022

Burying Gaza

One fails to understand how the senseless killing of a child can be brushed so coldly under the carpet.
Celebrate the athlete
09 Aug, 2022

Celebrate the athlete

TALK about delivering on your promise: javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did that in the grandest style at the...