The Hazara Shias in Quetta on Monday buried the 87 people of their community killed in Thursday’s serial blasts in the city after the Pakistan Peoples Party-led federal government dismissed its own provincial government in the dead of the night in the face of a wave of protests across the country against the growing sectarian violence.
The dismissal was announced by Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf at 1 am in the morning, after visiting the Hazara Shias in Quetta, who were protesting since Friday afternoon with the bodies.
To impose Governor’s Rule, President Asif Ali Zardari invoked Article 234, for the first time since the 18th Amendment — that sought to restore the 1973 Constitution — was adopted in 2010. The decision came after Chief Minister Aslam Raisani refused to step down and also defied his party leadership’s instructions to return to the province immediately from a private trip overseas.
In response to the Hazara Shia demand that control of the province be given to the Army, the Prime Minister told them that the Frontier Corps had been given policing powers. “The FC officers are from the Army and Army officers would command it,” he told the agitating community.
There was widespread scepticism about this decision having any impact on sectarian violence as it is widely perceived that those targeting the community are proxies of the security establishment.
Also, questions were being asked about the impact of granting policing powers to the FC in the restive province as this force has been held responsible for many of the forced disappearances of Baloch people.
Yet, the decision was welcomed across the country by protesters holding round-the-clock vigils in solidarity with the Hazara Shias protesting in Quetta.
For one, it helped defuse the situation as the community decided to give up its siege, under sub-zero temperatures, even as the bodies decomposed.
The bodies were buried on Monday afternoon, nearly 96 hours after the blasts that killed over 100 people in Quetta on one day. With the Hazara Shias ending their vigil in Quetta, all the other protests across the country also wound up though there is a growing view that civil society would have to become proactive.