Pakistan PM flies to Quetta to meet protesters
QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf flew to the city of Quetta on Sunday to meet local Shi'ites holding a protest alongside the bodies of family members killed in one of the country's worst sectarian attacks.
Thousands of the Shi'ite Hazara community, the ethnic group targeted by the blast, have been holding vigils at the site of the blast beside the 96 shrouded bodies. They have spent two nights outside in the cold and rain and are refusing to bury their dead until their safety is guaranteed.
Islamic tradition demands that the dead be buried as soon as possible, and leaving the bodies of loved ones above ground for so long is a potent expression of grief and pain.
The prime minister left early Sunday to address local leaders in Quetta, the capital of the western province of Balochistan, said presidential aide Naveed Chaudhry. The protesters had rejected a delegation led by the minister for religious affairs that arrived Saturday.
So far, the government has not made any public statement about the attacks, which were claimed by banned militant Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The LeJ wants to expel Shi'ites from Pakistan, where they make up about 20 percent of the country's 180 million population.
Shi'ite leaders are demanding that the provincial government be dismissed and that the army take over Quetta to guarantee their security.
"We want assurances that the killers will be arrested so our younger children will not die also," said Sakina Bibi, 56, who sat alongside the coffins of two of her sons.
"They were my everything," she wept. "Sitting here will not bring them back but it is our right to protest."
Sectarian killings have been rising in Pakistan even as deaths from other militant violence have dropped. Human Rights Watch says bombings and gunmen killed more than 400 Shi'ites last year and this year may be even more bloody.
(Reporting by Michael Perry)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- UPDATE 9-Total CEO de Margerie killed in Moscow as jet hits snow plough
- Total CEO de Margerie killed in Moscow business jet accident
- Pistorius jailed for 5 years for killing girlfriend Steenkamp
- Indiana police charge suspect who may have killed for decades
- China's growth slowest since global crisis, annual target at risk
As well as making the lives of millions of middle class Indians easier, the sharp drop in Brent crude prices since June is a boon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his fight to revive an economy growing at its slowest rate since the 1980s. Full Article
Turkey to let Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani as U.S. drops arms to defenders. Full Article