As the death toll of the deadly bombing in Quetta reached 85 on Monday amid countrywide sit-in demonstrations by the Shia community in protest against the continued violence against the persecuted Hazaras, the federal government and the superior judiciary finally sprung into action, with the Supreme Court chief justice taking suo motu notice of the incident and the president and prime minister ordering a crackdown on religious extremists bent upon mocking the writ of the state with impunity.
The toll of the bombing at Kirani Road in Quetta was raised to 85 as another injured child succumbed to his injuries at Combined Military Hospital on Monday. The identity of the deceased could not be ascertained. He, however, belonged to the Hazara community.
Continuing with their protests against the government’s oblivion to the ethnic cleansing of peaceful Hazara minority community, Shias across the country staged sit-in demonstrations in all major towns and cities, including Quetta, where the mourners refused to bury the victims’ bodies until the government deployed army personnel in the city to flush out the banned outfits.
PROTESTS BY SHIAS:
Shops and markets were reported shut in parts of Karachi and traffic remained scarce. Furthermore, a number of government and private educational institutions were closed and the sit-ins were also reportedly affecting the schedule of the flights and trains to and fro the city. Women and children were also taking part in the sit-ins being held at the city’s MA Jinnah Road’s Numaish Chowrangi, Aisha Manzil, Ancholi, Shahrah-e-Pakistan and Shahrah-e-Faisal.
The Karachi Bar Council also boycotted court proceedings in protest against the Quetta blast. The Karachi Transport Ittehad also announced its support.
Largely-attended protests were also held in several other cities, including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Sahiwal. The protesters were unanimous in their demand of army deployment in Quetta and extermination of jihadi and sectarian outfits.
The governments of Punjab‚ Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan also announced one-day mourning against the Quetta tragedy on Monday.
A Punjab government spokesman said the national flag would be lowered at half mast in the province to mourn the deaths of innocent people.
AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed has announced to observe three-day mourning in the state to express solidarity with the families of victims of Quetta blast. In Gilgit-Baltistan‚ Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah has also announced one-day mourning.
PRESIDENT AND PM:
Taking notice of the situation three days after the incident, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ordered the Balochistan government led by Governor Zulfiqar Magsi to clamp down on extremist elements fomenting terrorism in the province.
In a telephone call to Magsi, President Zardari asked him to launch a targeted operation against the banned outfits operating in the province. He also directed Magsi to summon army’s support for indiscriminate action against terrorists if he deemed necessary.
On his part, Prime Minister Ashraf constituted a five member parliamentary delegation comprising Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, Maula Buksh Chandio, Nadeem Afzal Gondal and Senator Sughra Imam to visit Quetta today (Tuesday) to assess the situation.
The delegation will meet the affected families as well as representatives of security and intelligence agencies, and submit a comprehensive report on the situation.
Ashraf also called for a comprehensive report from the intelligence agencies regarding the breach of security by terrorists who managed to sneak into the city a water tanker laden with explosives weighing around 1,000 kilogrames.
SUO MOTU NOTICE:
The country’s chief justice has also taken, albeit much delayed, notice of the genocide of the Hazara Shias, and summoned the attorney general of Pakistan and the advocate general of Balochistan in court today (Tuesday).