Angry Pakistani Shi’as Refuse to Bury Dead

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QUETTA: Shi’a families refusing to bury their dead after twin bombings in southwestern city of Quetta vowed to continue their sit-in protest Saturday until the Pakistani army takes over security of the region.

Thousands of protesters, including women, children and the elderly, gathered at Alamdar Road with the bodies of over 80 people killed in bomb attacks Thursday night.

 Despite the biting cold, the protesters continued their sit-in through the night and said will not move till authorities acted on their demands. The protesters said that they would not bury their loved ones till the army gave an assurance that it would take administrative control of Quetta.

Husnain Baloch, a local at the protests told The Express Tribune that people were staging a sit-in on Alamdar road, near Thursday’s blast, braving heavy rain and cold.

The refusal to bury the bodies is an extreme position in Islamic society where the dead are normally buried the same or next day, but families say they will not leave until authorities agree to put the security and administration of the city under army control.

“The government machinery has failed, there is no protection for people in Quetta,” local leader Hashim Mausawi said.

Taliban linked militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombings, which took place in an area dominated by Shi’a Muslims from the Hazara ethnic minority and killed 92 people, with 121 wounded.

It was the worst ever sectarian attack on Shi’as, who account for around 20-25 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million population.

Member of National Assembly Syed Nasir Shah lashed out at the government for being incapable of hindering the terrorists. “Either the government has failed or it is supporting them [terrorists],” he said.

A Shia Muslim leader publicly criticised Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani over the security in the country.

 “I ask the army chief: what have you done with these extra three years you got (in office)? What did you give us except more death?” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, who heads a national council of Shia organizations, told a news conference.

 His statements highlighted Shia community’s frustrations with Pakistan’s failure to contain militant groups who have vowed to wipe out Shias.

Meanwhile widespread protests were held across Pakistan to protest the carnage. 

Pakistani twitter users also generated trends #ShiaGenocide and #WeAreAllHazara to express solidarity with the minority community. Daughter of slain Benazir Bhutto, whose party rules Pakistan tweeted:  “Speechless. Sick of merely condoling + condemning. Individual lives turned 2 statistics. No words will suffice. 

The government in Baluchistan province, where security forces are also fighting a separatist insurgency, announced three days of morning after the bombings.

It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since suicide bombers killed 98 people outside a police training centre in the northwest in 2011 – an assault claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

Earlier Thursday, a bomb had been detonated under a security force vehicle in a crowded part of Quetta, killing 11 people and wounding dozens.

Another bomb at a religious gathering in the northwestern Swat valley killed 22 people and wounded more than 80, the deadliest incident in the district since the army in 2009 fought off a two-year Taliban insurgency.

In total 126 people were killed in bombings in what was one of Pakistan’s deadliest days for years, raising concerns about rising violence in the nuclear-armed country ahead of general elections.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan demanded that the government take immediate steps to clamp down on “murdering mayhem” ahead of the elections.

 

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