QUETTA: A complete strike was observed in Quetta city and several district headquarters of Balochistan on Sunday to denounce the Mastung massacre and express solidarity with the bereaved families.
All trading centres, shopping plazas and business establishments remained closed in Quetta, Pishin, Chaman, Ziarat, Harnai, Loralai, Musakhel, Qila Saifullah, Zhob and Sibi.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and opposition parties had called for the observance of a day of mourning on Sunday.
Wearing black armbands and holding black flags, supporters of different political parties and trade organisations took out protest processions. They chanted slogans, condemning the barbaric act which claimed 22 precious lives at Khad Kocha on Friday night.
Addressing the rallies, Malik Sikandar Khan of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, provincial minister Sardar Mustafa Tareen, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s MPA Syed Liaquat Agha and president of the Anjuman-i-Tajran Rahim Kakar called upon the government to arrest the perpetrators of the barbaric act and bring them to justice.
Mr Kakar said security forces and local administration reportedly took three hours to reach the place of the incident while check-posts of Frontier Corps and Levies force were just a few kilometres from there.
He said that involvement of the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, in the carnage of innocent people could not be ruled out, but “we don’t agree with Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti’s assertion that the attack was a reaction to waving Pakistani flag by Kashmiris at a rally in Srinagar”.
Talking to newsmen, information secretary of JUI-Ideological Sattar Chishti said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached Karachi a few hours after the Safoora Goth incident, but he did not bother to come to Quetta to express sympathy with the families of those who were gunned down in Mastung.
Speakers at the rallies said it was the foremost responsibility of the government to apprehend the terrorists and award them exemplary punishment.
They claimed that about 100 coaches and buses, besides private vehicles, went to Karachi via Mastung daily, but the local administration or security forces were unable to provide security to passengers and travellers
They said that successful observance of the strike was a clear message to the killers that “we hate terrorism, extremism and sectarianism” and vowed to continue the struggle for normalisation of the situation.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2015