Pakistan Shiites bury dead as govt vow to get culprits

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Updated 26 February 2013
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Pakistan Shiites bury dead as govt vow to get culprits

QUETTA, Pakistan: Mass burials for 89 victims of a bomb attack targeting Shiite Muslims in Pakistan began Wednesday after three days of nationwide protests at the government’s failure to tackle sectarian violence.
Tensions were running high as up to 4,000 mourners gathered to bury the dead in the southwestern city of Quetta, and some pelted a government official’s car with stones, prompting security forces and then protesters to fire into the air.
No-one was hurt in the incident.
The bomb on Saturday in an area of Quetta dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiites was the second major attack on the minority community in five weeks and prompted protesters to pour onto the streets across the country, shutting down parts of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Around 1,000 of the mourners, shouting anti-government slogans and beating their chests, quarrelled with their leaders for agreeing to end their sit-in protest, which began on Sunday, and demanded Quetta be handed over to the army.
An angry mob of young people and women, crying and screaming, initially refused to bury the dead but agreed after assurances from their community heads, an AFP reporter said.
“You can see that the burial has been started and the protest sit-in is over,” Sardar Saadat Ali, one of the community leader told AFP in the Hazara community graveyard.
Shiite leaders agreed to end the protest after meeting government ministers, who promised a “targeted operation” to catch those responsible for Saturday’s atrocity.
Soldiers from the paramilitary Frontier Corps and police were deployed in all markets and on roads in Quetta city as the burials took place, while troops searched every vehicle heading toward the Hazara town area.
Shiites, who make up around 20 percent of the mostly Sunni Muslim population of 180 million, are facing record numbers of attacks, raising serious questions about security as nuclear-armed Pakistan prepares to hold elections by mid-May.
Outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) has claimed responsibility for the Quetta attacks and Shiites are furious that authorities have done nothing to prosecute those responsible.


Pakistani PM Khan vows to hold peace talks with India

Updated 33 min 9 sec ago
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Pakistani PM Khan vows to hold peace talks with India

  • India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries
  • 500,000 Delhi soldiers are positioned in the portion of Kashmir India controls

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with arch-rival India following elections in the neighboring country, after a similar offer from the former cricketer was “rebuffed.”
Khan made the announcement during a speech at a Saudi Arabian investment conference where the newly minted leader launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payment crisis.
“When I won the elections and came to power the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India,” Khan told the crowd at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh, saying the overture was later “rebuffed” by Delhi.
“Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India,” he added, referring to upcoming nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.
In September India pulled the plug on a rare meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit — a move that was termed “arrogant” by Khan and unleashed a barrage of insults from both sides.
India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two countries but claimed in full by both since independence in 1947.
Delhi has stationed about 500,000 soldiers in the portion of Kashmir it controls, where separatist groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Khan’s call for peace talks comes as his administration is desperately seeking funds from “friendly” countries, including Saudi Arabia, to shore up Pakistan’s deteriorating finances.
The prime minister’s attendance at the FII comes as leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs shunned the conference in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
During his address at the FII Khan confirmed that Pakistan was also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a new bailout.
Since taking power in August Khan has also sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.
But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent.