ISLAMABAD: A sit-in that began on Monday continues at the National Press Club (NPC) in Islamabad against twin bombings in Parachinar that killed more than 75 people.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has denied rumours that news coverage of the protests was curtailed by it.
The sit-in was initiated by the Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen (MWM) on Eid day to express solidarity with the people of Parachinar.
Despite heavy rainfall on Wednesday, men, women and children from various religio-political parties and members of civil society held a protest rally from the NPC to China Chowk, during which they chanted slogans against terror attacks.
The rally was led by Allama Amin Shaheedi while MWM leader Allama Nasir Abbas was in Parachinar. Mr Shaheedi announced that the sit-in would continue as long as protesters in Parachinar city were on the streets.
A protest sit-in in Parachinar continued for the sixth consecutive day after twin terror attacks killed at least 75 people and injured over 300 on Friday. The bombings took place while people were shopping for iftar and Eid in the Turi Bazaar area, close to a crowded bus terminal.
Three minutes after the first bombing, a second bombinb occurred as people hurried to provide aid and to rescue the victims of the first explosion. The attacks were claimed by the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami.
Speaking at the protest at China Chowk, Mr Shaheedi reiterated the demand of protestors in Parachinar for Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to negotiate with them.
“We have always rendered sacrifices for the country and even now our protest is not only peaceful but our demands are for the benefit of the nation – that is to end terrorism from Pakistan,” Mr Shaheedi said.
Other speakers, including Allama Asghar Asghari, said Shias were being targeted regularly across the country but Quetta and Parachinar were the greatest victims of sectarian attacks.
Speakers also criticised the limited or complete lack of coverage of the protests and sit-in regarding the Parachinar blasts in the electronic media.
Responding to rumours circulating on social media that television channels were deliberately not airing news about the protests, Pemra denied that it had issued instructions to television channels not to air news or comments about the attacks in Parachinar and called the rumours “fake news”.
A statement issued by the regulatory authority said: “PEMRA strongly denies such rumour mongering. At a time when the country is going through tragic incidents, irresponsible handling of sensitive issues by certain TV channels is a blatant violation of National Action Plan and PEMRA Code of Conduct.”
Shias protested on Wednesday against twin bombings in Parachinar last week and criticised the government for its failure to protect the people of Parachinar.
The rally was organised by the MWM and other organisations, including Imamia Organisation and Imamia Students. It began at Imambargah Qasar-i-Fatima and proceeded down HMC Road, before concluding at a community centre.
Protesters carried placards and banners emblazoned with anti-government slogans and demands for justice for the victims of the twin bombings in Parachinar. The protesters were also addressed by various community leaders, including Maulana Ameer Hussain Jaffari, Maulana Fazzak Abbas Qomi, Maulana Mehdi Sherazi and Maulana Tahir Ali Jna.
Speakers condemned the terrorist attack in Parachinar and demanded implementation of the National Action Plan to prevent terrorism. They said the government must protect Parachinar residents from terrorists infiltrating from Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2017