Hazara community ends sit-in after receiving assurances from state minister, Balochistan CM

Updated April 15, 2019

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State Minister for Interior, Sheharyar Afridi, visited members of the Hazara community in Quetta on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
State Minister for Interior, Sheharyar Afridi, visited members of the Hazara community in Quetta on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Members of the Shia Hazara community, protesting against the Hazarganji suicide bombing, ended their sit-in late on Monday night after receiving assurances from Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani and State Minister for Interior, Sheharyar Afridi.

The community had been protesting for the last four days against the bombing, which had claimed 20 lives in Quetta on Friday.

"The Haraza community has sacrificed a lot, and also shown their patience despite [the loss of] precious human losses," said Chief Minister Alyani, vowing "to bring to book the perpetrators of terrorist attacks".

Despite rainfall, members of the Hazara community had continued their sit-in on Quetta's Western Bypass, which links the city with highways.

Women and children were also part of the sit-in demanding action against the perpetrators of Hazara killings. The protesters had set up camps and burnt wood to keep warm at night.

"We want justice," Kashif Hussain, one of the protesters, had told DawnNewsTV. The protesters had been chanting slogans, asking for an end to terrorism and to Hazara killings.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan should come and console us," Muhammad Raza, another participant of the sit-in, had said. "This time the government should go beyond words and do something practical for our protection."

The premier has yet to visit the bereaved.

PTI leaders Sheharyar Afridi and Zulfiqar Bukhari arrived in Quetta on Monday. ─ DawnNewsTV
PTI leaders Sheharyar Afridi and Zulfiqar Bukhari arrived in Quetta on Monday. ─ DawnNewsTV

State Minister Afridi had arrived in Quetta on Monday to review the security situation. He was accompanied by Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfiqar Bukhari.

Afridi had visited the Imam Bargah located in Hazara town to condole with the bereaved family members.

Speaking to the media, Afridi said that the federal government stands with the Hazara community and that concrete steps will be taken to end the crimes against its members.

"The federal government will play its role in making sure that these heinous crimes end," he said.

"I stand with the community and I assure you that the government has been working to ensure that such crimes end. That is why this was the first such incident to occur over the span of nine months.

"The question is, who is it that wants to create these differences between Pakistanis? Who wants to create a situation of conflict within Pakistan?

"I am saying these things and asking these questions because Pakistan's enemies want that this country be added to the [Financial Action Task Force] blacklist. They want that at every level, including the economic level, such blows be dealt that Pakistan — God forbid — breaks apart."

Afridi and Bukhari also called on the Balochistan chief minister and other political leaders to discuss the means to improve security and end the ongoing protest by Hazara community.

The minister was briefed about the investigation into the deadly suicide bombing, said a press release issued by the chief minister secretariat after the meeting.

The protesters had earlier refused to call off the sit-in despite repeated requests by the district administration and appeals of provincial ministers, including Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove, health minister Naseebullah Marri and others.

"We strongly condemn the terrorist incident but blockade of road needs to end in view of troubles for people," Rahim Agha, the president Anjuman e Tajaran, had said as the continued sit-in has caused blockade of the main Western Bypass road.

Hazaras are disproportionately targeted by sectarian violence as they are easily identifiable due to their distinctive physical appearance.

A report released by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last year stated that 509 members of Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta from January 2012 to Dec 2017.