Pakistani Shia Muslims hold protests over Quetta carnage
Thousands of Pakistani Shia Muslims staged demonstrations on Friday and Saturday across the country to condemn the recent bomb attacks in Pakistan in which more than 100 people, including many Shias, were killed.
A total of 129 people were killed and more than 280 wounded in three bomb attacks across Pakistan on Thursday.
At least 92 Pakistanis lost their lives and more than 200 others were injured in twin bomb attacks that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiards hall in Quetta. Earlier in the day, 12 security forces were also killed in a bomb explosion at a security checkpoint in the city.
On Saturday, the protesters in the southwestern city of Quetta demanded that the army take control of the violence-hit city to protect Shia Muslims and stated they would not allow the victims of the twin bombing to be buried until their demands were met.
On Friday, Pakistani Shia leaders criticized the country’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani over security in the country.
“I ask the army chief: What have you done with these extra three years you got (in office). What did you give us except more death,” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, a central leader of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, told a press conference Quetta on Friday.
“They (the victims) will not be buried until the army comes into Quetta,” Shaheedi said.
Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch, said, “Last year was the bloodiest year for Shias in living memory.”
“More than 400 were killed and if yesterday’s attack is any indication, it’s just going to get worse,” he added.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered an alliance with the United States in the so-called war against terrorism.
Since late 2009, there has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan. Thousands have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping the country.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the “terrorist violence” in Pakistan.
“The secretary general is deeply concerned about ongoing terrorist violence in Pakistan,” the UN spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.
In another incident of violence on Thursday, a bomb detonated inside a mosque in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest of Islamabad, leaving 25 Sunni Muslims dead and 80 others wounded.
“He strongly condemns the multiple attacks in Quetta and the Swat Valley,” the statement said.
“He (the UN secretary general) reiterates the strong support of the UN for the efforts of the government of Pakistan to combat the scourge of terrorism and hopes that the perpetrators of these violent acts will be brought to justice,” the statement added.