Pak Shias Call for Army Help

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QUETTA: Pakistani Shia leaders called on the military on Friday to seize control of Quetta to protect the Muslim minority after one of the worst sectarian attacks in the country’s history.

Shia leaders also told Reuters they would not allow the 82 victims of two bomb attacks in Quetta on Thursday to be buried until their demands were met.

A string of bombings left at least 93 people dead and over 150 wounded in one of the bloodiest days of violence that Balochistan has seen for years.

A suicide bomber detonated the explosives inside a crowded snooker club on Alamdar Road, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood of Quetta.

As soon as mediapersons, police and rescue officials reached the site, the second blast went off. Television channels counted the two explosions as suicide attacks. Most of the casualties were caused by the second blast.

The bombings disrupted power supplies and plunged the Alamdar Road neighbourhood into darkness. The area is dominated by the Hazara community, who are Shias by sect. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the blast and said their target was the Hazara community.

Human Rights Watch censures Pakistan 

Pakistan’s “persistent failure” to protect the Shia Muslims from recurring sectarian attacks has come under criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) which says the Shia communities live in a “state of siege” in the country.

Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, said on Friday, “As Shia community members continue to be slaughtered in cold blood, the callousness and indifference of authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military and security agencies.” 

On Thursday, over 100 people were killed and many others injured in a wave of deadly attacks targeting both security guards and Shia Muslims, in the country. 

Dayan went on to say that 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 is just going to get worse.”

Shia Muslims from Hazara community in Pakistan have been living in mounting fear and desperation of frequent deadly attacks by pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. 

Dayan added that the roughly 500,000-strong Shia Hazara community in Quetta is hunted by extremist groups because their ethnically distinct features make them an easy target. “They live in a state of siege. Stepping out of the ghetto means risking death.” 

“Everyone has failed them – the security services, the government, the judiciary,” Dayan stated. 

Militant groups have been engaged in a violent campaign against Shias in Pakistan over the past few years. 

Hundreds of Shia Muslims were killed across Pakistan in 2012. The attacks mainly targeted doctors, engineers, high-ranking government officials, teachers, and politicians. 

Reports say the fear of the deadly assaults on Hazara Shia Muslims have even made them risk their lives through illegal immigrations to Australia and other countries. 

 

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