PARACHINAR: With more and more people from nearby villages reaching the Shaheed Park, the sit-in and shutter-down in protest against Friday’s twin blasts entered its sixth day on Wednesday.

However, no senior official from the federal government visited the victims of the incident in which at least 75 people lost their lives and scores others suffered injuries.

Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa was expected to arrive in Parachinar on Tuesday, but the participants of the sit-in, who have been demanding a visit from the army chief and the federal interior minister, were told that inclement weather conditions were not suitable for a helicopter to make landing.

Most speakers at the sit-in and the participants expressed disappointment over the disparity in compensation announced for the victims of the twin blasts and for those affected in the oil-tanker explosion in Bahawalpur. The federal government has announced Rs2 million for victims of the oil tanker explosion, in contrast to Rs300,000 given to victims of terrorism in the tribal areas.

COAS slams bid to create sectarian division

“This sort of discrimination convinces us that our blood is inferior to that of people in other parts of the country,” says Ahsanullah, whose cousin was killed in the June 23 bombings.

On Wednesday, Raja Nasir Abbas, central leader of Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen, Allama Fida Hussain and former senator Allama Abidul Hasnain, among others, spoke at the sit-in.

They demanded that security of the area be handed over to the Kurram Militia, whose personnel were well acquainted with the area, its customs and traditions.

The grandson of Abdus Sattar Edhi, Saeed alias Junior Edhi, announced at the sit-in that an Edhi centre would be set up in the area.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Services Public Relations quoted General Bajwa as saying: “Having failed to divide us through terrorism, our enemy is now trying to target and fragment us along sectarian/ethnic lines which merit a unified national response.”

He said that an ongoing malicious campaign by enemies of Pakistan, which was unwittingly being spread on social media, was regrettable. “For us, every shaheed/injured is equal, regardless of sect/ethnicity and indeed is a great loss. We all are Pakistanis and Muslims who fully respect the religious rights of our Pakistani minorities,” said the COAS.

The ISPR release states that the COAS had spoken to the religious clergy of various sects in the last few days seeking their help in defeating the ongoing ‘sinister’ campaign.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2017

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