The Hazara Shia community of Quetta refused to bury the 87 killed in Thursday’s bomb blasts for the third day on Sunday despite Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf himself arriving in the city to defuse the situation.
Though Mr. Ashraf landed in the earlier part of the day and began parleys, the protests with 87 coffins continued as the government failed to meet any of their demands of the community which has been a frequent target of sectarian violence in recent years. The federal government is also yet to take a call on their demand for dismissal of the provincial government though the Chief Minister is yet to return to the country despite being specifically ordered to do so by the Premier on Saturday.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also went to Quetta to express solidarity with the Hazara Shias in their hour of crisis.
While the political leadership and the military got a lot of flak — the former for being weak-kneed and the latter for its strategic policy of using terrorists as assets — the judiciary also came in for considerable criticism.
Referring to various issues on which the Supreme Court has taken suo motu notice including a recent shooting down of a young lad in Karachi and the discovery of two bottles of alcohol in an actress’ baggage, people have begun asking why similar note was not being taken of the targeted attacks on Hazara Shias, now being described as genocide.
Meanwhile, protests continued across the country as round-the-clock vigils were held with participants refusing to budge till the Hazara Shias protesting in Quetta ended their agitation and buried the dead.
Even in Jhang — the central Punjab district which is the hub of anti-Shia terror networks like Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) and its breakaway Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — protests were organised against relentless attacks on Hazara Shias.
In Karachi — where several protests and vigils were held — one such agitation was organised near Bilawal House which is President Asif Ali Zardari’s camp office whenever in the city. As phone services went on the blink, protesters requested people in the neighbourhood to unlock passwords to their wireless Internet connections to allow people to express themselves.
Even as the protests continued in the federal capital, security for those picketing became a concern as the police is already stretched in view of the Long March of Minhaj-ul Quran International leader Tahir-ul Qadri, which is due to arrive in Islamabad on Monday. With inmates of nearby madrassas keeping a hawk-eye’s vigil on the protests and objecting to anyone raising slogans against the SSP or LEJ, organisers of the sit-in had to walk a tightrope.