QUETTA – Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) has opposed handing over Quetta to army while condemning another Shia representative organisation over ‘playing politics over the dead bodies of Hazara youth’ and demanded that the head of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi be put on trial.
He termed handing provincial capital Quetta’s control to the army ‘illegal’, saying extremist Shia group Jamaat Majlis Wahadatul Muslimun should stop playing politics over the bodies of Hazara people. He demanded immediate trial of Malik Ishaq.
The HDP leader said Quetta had always been an abode of peace and the tribes residing in the city had always exhibited religious tolerance and mutual respect. “But for the last decade efforts were made to stoke sectarian violence in Balochistan generally and in Quetta particularly which has sabotaged the centuries old mutual respect among different religious sects and ethnicities.”
Abdul Khaliq said that the policymakers were busy in accomplishing the interests of Iran and Saudia Arabia and despite the enormous loss to the very foundations of the country the short-sightedness of the ruling class remains unchanged. He said that the groups involved in sectarian violence had outer patronage, adding that genocide of Hazara people had been carried out for the last 13 years.
“Atrocities meted out to the Hazara community have broken all the records” however the Hazara people had still exhibited tolerance and had protested in democratic way, he said. He termed the protests of the Hazara community following bombings of January 10 and February 18 as a precedent for the entire world.
The HDP leader said his party had never demanded handing over of Quetta to army, saying a political party cannot take such a myopic decision. “Targeted operation should be carried out with honesty of purpose which any security agency can do,” he stressed. He said extremists disguised as guests had also sabotaged the Hazara interests, adding use of derogatory words against ulema and issuing wrong statements about sit-in spoke volumes about their minds.
“We have always been demanding arrest of all those involved in any act of sectarian violence, irrespective of their party affiliation... Ishaq must be brought to justice and punished for involvement in violence,” Abdul Khaliq demanded.
Officials said earlier this week that security forces had killed four men and detained more than 170 alleged suspects. LJ emerged as a spin-off from mujahideen groups which were funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and backed by the Pakistani intelligence services during the 1980s war against Soviet troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Ishaq, who has been arrested before, was released by a court on bail in July 2011, even though he has been implicated in dozens of murders. He was detained briefly in 2012 for inciting sectarian hatred and has also been accused of masterminding the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which wounded several players and killed eight Pakistanis.
His latest arrest –which came a day after the Pakistan Army denied any links to LeJ – should not be an ‘eye wash’, said Sajid Naqvi, another Shia leader. “We demand his trial and the authorities should provide protection to witnesses who would like to appear in the court,” he said.
Shias, who make up around 20 per cent of the population of 180 million, are facing record numbers of attacks, raising serious questions about security as Pakistan prepares to hold elections by mid-May. The February 16 bomb attack in Quetta killed 89 people, while 92 people were killed in an attack at a Hazara snooker hall on January 10.
Protesters poured onto the streets following the latest bombing and shut down parts of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, demanding better protection for Shias and lashing out at the government for failing to catch the perpetrators.