With Thursday’s serial bomb attacks in Quetta clearly targeting the Hazara Shia community, the area’s Shia leadership on Friday refused to bury its dead till security was strengthened or the Army took control. Simultaneously, a Shia leader openly criticised the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Angered by the relentless targeting of Hazara Shias, the community lined up the coffins of a majority of the over 100 killed in Thursday’s bomb attacks on a main thoroughfare of Quetta, refusing to bury them till some concrete action was taken to end the carnage.

The president of Shia Conference Syed Dawood Agha was quoted by BBC as stating that his community would not bury its dead till the Army gave an assurance to take administrative control of the city. The demand raised eyebrows across civil society as it is widely believed that the Shias are essentially targets of proxies created by the security establishment. Addressing another press conference, Maulana Shaheedi — who heads a national grouping of Shia organizations — posed the following question to Gen. Kayani: “I ask the Army Chief. What have you done with these three extra years you got in office? What did you give us except more death?”

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that the “callous targeting” of members of the Hazara community in Quetta in two of Thursday’s bombings has caused the highest death toll for any sectarian attack in a day in Pakistan so far. “Lack of any apparent distress at these brutal attacks and absence of much urgency to nab the killers has understandably prompted human rights organisations in the country and abroad to accuse the state of looking the other way, if not of downright complicity, as more and more citizens of the Shia faith are mowed down in appalling attacks.”

Referring to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — a banned outfit — taking responsibility for the attacks, HRCP added: “The network and sanctuaries of that and other banned outfits must be taken apart across Pakistan, including Punjab, and the killers apprehended and tried. Until that happens, the charges of the state being soft on the terrorists would not go away.”

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