KARACHI: Citizens on Friday formed a human chain around Imambargah Shah-i-Najaf in Karachi to send a message of unity in response to the recent deadly sectarian attacks on imambargahs in different cities of the country.
The human chain was formed on the call of the Pakistan Youth Alliance (PYA). The organisation was formed in 2007 and comprises a network of youth activists who believe in a politically progressive, religiously harmonious and economically just Pakistan.
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"The worst you can do is come and kill us and still we are standing here unarmed, belonging to various religions and sects, to show unity and solidarity with our Shia brothers and sisters, and if it requires sacrificing our lives we are ready for the same," said one of the participants, Jibran Nasir, while speaking to Dawn via telephone.
The human rights activist, however, said that it was a desperate situation which had been "facilitated by the government of Pakistan and other state agencies who continue to provide patronage to banned sectarian outfits".
Nasir pointed out that the imambargah located near Central Jail on Karachi's Martin Road was not situated in a typically posh area and despite poor security, many people, including Sunnis, came forward. He said the custodian of the imambargah permitted citizens to make the human chain.
In the wake of the attack on Peshawar's All Saint Church, Pakistan For All, a citizens resistance forum of which Nasir is the co-founder, had formed human chains in Pakistan's largest cities — Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi — bringing on board Sunni and Shia clerics who attended a Sunday mass, condemned the attack and expressed condolences with the victims.
Nasir said it was heartening to see other organisations taking a cue and coming forward to condemn terrorist attacks and show solidarity with victims.
The latest attack on an imambargah came on Wednesday in which three people were killed in an explosion. The attack targeted the Qasar-i-Sakina Imambargah in Rawalpindi.
Previously on Feb 14, at least 21 people were killed and 50 others were injured during a gun and bomb attack at an imambargah in Peshawar's Hayatabad area when suicide attackers and gunmen — dressed in police uniforms — attacked worshippers offering Friday prayers.
Two weeks prior to the attack in Peshawar, a suicide bombing at an Imambargah in Shikarpur killed 61 people, making it the deadliest sectarian incident to hit the country in nearly two years.
Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which last year pledged support for the self-styled Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the Shikarpur, Peshawar and Rawalpindi imambargah attacks. Furthermore, the Jamatul Ahrar faction of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed a January attack on a Rawalpindi imambargah which had killed eight people and wounded 16 others.