The Supreme Court on Monday took suo motu notice of the killing of Hazara Shias in Quetta and issued summons to the Attorney General of Pakistan and Advocate General of Balochistan. The hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday even as families of the 84 killed in Saturday’s blast near Hazara Town in Quetta refused to bury their dead for the second day in a bid to draw attention to the plight of the community facing “genocide”.
The apex court decision came in the wake of considerable criticism of the superior courts for turning a blind eye to sectarian violence. After the January 10 serial blasts in Quetta which left over 80 Hazara Shias dead, questions were asked about the Supreme Court’s silence on the issue, particularly given the frequency with which it has used its suo motu powers.
In another significant development, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan declared the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has claimed responsibility for the Hazara Town blast, “anti-Islam”. This is the first time that Mr. Khan — who has been billed as soft on terrorism and nicknamed ‘Taliban Khan’ for preferring talks with terrorists instead of fighting them — has taken such a strong position on terrorism.
Meanwhile, protests continued across the country against the killing of Hazara Shias and in solidarity with the community’s protest. Karachi was most affected with over a dozen protests in different parts of the city. In many cities, people picketed thoroughfares determined to maintain their vigil as long as the Quetta protest continued. The main demands of the Hazara Shias include handing over of Balochistan to the military and targeted operation against terrorist groups responsible for sectarian violence.
In a related statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) criticised the failure of the government to crack down on LeJ. Referring to the government’s claim that the blast was the result of intelligence failure, HRCP said: “Neither the victims’ families nor civil society can care less about the claptrap being fed to the media to deflect criticism. The people are entitled to ask what steps, if any, had been taken after the deadly attack against Quetta’s Hazaras last month in order to bring to justice the ruthless killers who have the audacity to claim responsibility again and again for their ghastly actions.”