quetta-sit-in-AP-670
People chant slogans next to the bodies of their relatives awaiting burial, who were killed in Thursday's deadly bombings in Quetta. — Photo by AP

QUETTA: After braving three nights in Quetta’s freezing temperatures next to their slain loved ones, the families of dozens of bombing victims ended their protest and buried the bodies amid strict security measures in a Hazara graveyard on Monday.

Relatives, friends and members of Hazara community had camped out at major intersections of the provincial capital for last four days to protest killings of more than 100 persons in twin suicide attacks.

A total of 83 dead bodies were buried on Monday. A large number of people participated in the funeral while strict security measures were adopted during the burial. Protesters also chanted slogans against law enforcement agencies for their failure to provide protection to them.

The community ended their almost four-day demonstration Monday after the federal government accepted their demands for protection by sacking the provincial government.

Following talks by the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf with Shia leaders in the wee hours of Sunday, President Asif Ali Zardari invoked Article 234 of the Constitution, dismissing the provincial assembly and instating Governor Zulfikar Ali Magsi as the Chief Executive of the province.

“After holding consultations with all the stakeholders, we have decided to invoke Article 234 of the Constitution. Governor’s rule is being imposed in the province and the provincial government is being dismissed,” the premier had announced in front of the Hazara representatives.

A leader of the Qaumi Yakjehti Council (QYC) told DawnNews that since the government had agreed to accept the demands, the council had decided to end the sit-in.

“The protest has been called off, burials will be after Zuhr (afternoon) prayers,” Shia leader Sadat Ali Khan had earlier announced at the protest.

Furthermore, the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) also ended its hunger strike which it had been holding in front of the office of Inspector General (IG) Balochistan Police in Quetta.

The minority Hazara Shia community has been targeted several times by banned extremist militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, with the organisation also claiming Thursday’s deadly blasts.

The Hazaras have repeatedly asked the government and security agencies for more protection.

Although Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan geographically, analysts and locals have criticised the federal government for neglecting it, leading to its instability. Oil and gas rich Balochistan suffers from a separatist Baloch insurgency, while religious extremism is also said to be on the rise in the troubled province.

(Additional reporting by Syed Ali Shah from Quetta)

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