KARACHI/QUETTA/ISLAMABAD - Calls for imposition of Governor’s rule in Balochistan and handing over the control of Quetta City to the military are growing as talks between the Hazara community leaders and government officials on Saturday failed to quell a protest that brought thousands onto cold, wet streets for a second night to watch over the bodies of over 100 people killed in one of country’s worst sectarian attacks.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain also called for dissolution of the Balochistan Assembly and Cabinet. The City’s control should be given to the military and the Chief Justice of Pakistan should take notice of the genocide of members of Hazara community.
Speaking in Lahore, PTI Chairman Imran Khan demanded immediate resignation from federal and Balochistan governments over their failure to control the law and order situation, besides imposing Governor’s rule in the volatile province.
Imran said he had directed party leaders and workers in Balochistan to take part in the sit-in of the Quetta Solidarity Council, while he would also reach there to express solidarity with the Hazaras.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Human Rights Nawaz Khokhar, PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan and PML-F have also demanded slapping Governor’s rule in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, despite freezing cold weather, hundreds of Hazara Shias continued their sit-in on the second day at Quetta’s Alamdar Road that was the scene of the suicide attacks. The protesters including women and children are keeping more than 60 coffins carrying the victims’ bodies there and say they would not burry them until the army takes control of the provincial capital and governor rule is imposed in the restive province.
Federal Minister Khurshid Shah, Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi and other government officials visited protestors and held talks with Hazaras representative Qaumi Yakjehti Council (QYC) but they could not achieve anything despite assurances of the federal minister that he would soon convey their massage to the PM.
The QYC warned that it would expand its protest to the cantonment area and Balochistan High Court if their demands would not be fulfilled. “We will not end our protest until we get an assurance that the Pakistan army will take over security and administrative control in Quetta,” a QYC leader said.
After talks with Hazaras, Khurshid Shah told the media that the president and PM were in contact with Governor Magsi. About governor rule, he said the assembly could not be dissolved without CM’s advice. When pointed out that CM did not turn up to meet the victim families, the governor said he would not have been there had Mr Raisani been in Quetta. “There are many secrets in this answer for journalists,” he added.
Also on Saturday, more than 500 supporters of the Hazara Democratic Party gathered outside the IGP office as its leader Abdul Khaliq went on a three-day hunger strike against lack of security.
In Islamabad, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has ordered the Frontier Crops (FC) to help maintain security in Balochistan and instructed Chief Minister Aslam Raisani to immediately return to country as Hazara families have refused to bury their dead after twin bombings in Quetta, vowing to continue their sit-in protest until the army takes over control.
Interior Minister Rahman Malik called on the prime minister at the PM House on Saturday and apprised him about the latest situation in Quetta in the backdrop of the deadly blasts. The PM ordered immediate dispatch of Pakistan Air Force’s C-130 plane to shift the injured of the blasts to Karachi for better medical treatment. He also announced one million rupees for the family of each dead and one hundred thousand rupees for every injured.
The PM, on the request of Balochistan government, ordered the FC to extend assistance to the civil administration in the maintenance of law and order. The FC has been given full police powers for the purpose and reinforcement of its contingents has been ordered. The PM also asked Governor Balochistan and provincial chief secretary to keep him updated, besides directed Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira to go to Quetta for monitoring the situation.