Pakistani protesters refuse to bury dead, demand protection

Updated 19 February 2013
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Pakistani protesters refuse to bury dead, demand protection

QUETTA, Pakistan: Thousands of Pakistani women refused for a second day yesterday to bury victims of a devastating bomb attack on their community, demanding protection against record levels of sectarian violence.
Demonstrators poured onto the streets across the country, shutting down the largest city Karachi and closing the road from the capital to Islamabad airport, in angry protest at Saturday’s bombing that killed at least 81 people in Quetta.
Up to 4,000 women blocked a road in the southwestern city, vowing to continue their sit-in that began late Sunday until the authorities take action against the extremists behind the attack which also wounded 178 people.
Two girls aged seven and nine were among the dead after the bomb, nearly a ton of explosives hidden in a water tanker, tore through a crowded market in a neighborhood dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslims.
The attack came just over a month after suicide bombers killed 92 people at a snooker hall in another Hazara neighborhood of Quetta. Protesters are furious at the authorities’ failure to tackle rising attacks on Shiites.
Volunteers armed with automatic rifles and pistols yesterday guarded the streets of Hazara town, the scene of Saturday’s attack, an AFP reporter saw.
Police said they were in talks to end the protest. But a local Shiite party leader, Qayyum Changezi, said they “will not bury the dead until a targeted operation is launched.”
After the Jan. 10 snooker hall attack, Shiite mourners staged a similar protest for four days. They only buried the dead after Islamabad sacked the provincial government and imposed governor’s rule in an apparent attempt to improve law and order.
The banned militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility both for Saturday’s attack and the snooker hall bombing, as well as a Feb. 1 attack on a Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan that killed 24.
There is anger and frustration at the apparent inability or unwillingness of the authorities to tackle the LeJ.
In Quetta Amin Shaheedi, the vice-president of the Shiite Wahdatul Muslemeen party, demanded control of the city be handed over to the army.
“Terrorists are roaming freely and we are not given any protection. Our protest will continue till we get protection,” he told reporters.
Violence between Pakistan’s majority Sunni Muslims and Shiites, who account for around a fifth of the country’s 180 million people, has surged in recent years, with the southwestern province of Baluchistan a particular flashpoint.
Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial heart Karachi came to a halt as public transport workers and traders stopped work yesterday after a Shiite party called a protest strike, residents said.
Schools were closed, traffic was off the roads and attendance in offices was thin. Several political and religious parties have backed the strike call.
Protesters on the edge of the capital Islamabad also shut down the main road leading to the airport, witnesses told AFP.
In the second largest city Lahore, hundreds of Shiites including women and children demonstrated to press demands for military action against extremists in Quetta.
Attacks targeting Shiites in Pakistan have claimed almost 200 lives already this year, compared with more than 400 in the whole of 2012 — a year which Human Rights Watch described as the deadliest on record for Shiites.
Pakistan is due to hold a general election in coming months but there are fears that rising sectarian and Islamist violence could force the postponement of polls.
In the northwest, suicide bombers stormed the offices of a top Pakistani official yesterday and killed five people.
Mutahir Zeb, the government’s representative in the semi-autonomous tribal district of Khyber, was unhurt. But his deputy was seriously wounded in the attack as officials in the city of Peshawar discussed preparations for the elections.


Federally Administered Tribal Areas is all set to move from colonial laws to Pakistan constitution

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly is due to hold a session on 27 May to give its approval to the constitutional amendment passed by the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan for the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and KP provinces. FATA has been ruled under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a set of laws imposed by the British in 1901. (AP)
Updated 26 May 2018
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Federally Administered Tribal Areas is all set to move from colonial laws to Pakistan constitution

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly is due to hold a session next week to give its approval to the constitutional amendment passed by the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan for the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and KP provinces.

The KP government spokesman and lawmaker, Shaukat Yousafzai, said the KP Assembly would hold its session on on May 27. “During the session, we plan to discuss an amendment to let Malakand division remain a tax-free zone, although the merger plan mentions it as a tax zone.”

After the provincial assembly’s approval, the bill will go to the president of Pakistan, who will issue an executive order for the KP-FATA merger.

“Once the president issues the executive order, the political agents will become deputy commissioners and the levies personnel will take the role of police. Other bureaucrats can also be transferred and all this is possible within a month,” Shaukat said.


He added, however, that the future of the Frontier Constabulary is still uncertain. “The Frontier Constabulary is a force meant for Frontier Regions (FRs). It is yet to be decided whether they will also be made a regular police force or not,” he said.

The FATA Director of Information Secretariat, Abdul Salam Wazir, said that changing the roles of bureaucracy there plus postings and transfers can be done without much delay, "but some issues, such as land revenue records that do not exist in FATA at the moment, may take years," he added.

Rahim Shah Afridi, FATA Lawyers' Forum president, said that though the provincial assembly election would be held after one year and though preparing revenue records might take even more years, the major focus should nevertheless be on FATA development schemes.

“Our main concern now should be the 100-billion-rupee fund to be given to FATA so that it is used transparently for the area’s development,” he said.

FATA has been ruled under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a set of laws imposed by the British in 1901. The FCR gives all executive and judicial powers to the political administration of FATA under this law.

The FCR continued to exist in FATA after Pakistan was created in 1947.

During the Cold War, FATA was the main source of Afghan and Arab fighters during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. FATA witnessed a great deal of violence after 2002 and when the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) emerged in the tribal belt, that prompted military operations by the Pakistan Army.