–Army chief, interior minister reach out to persecuted Shia Hazara minority in Quetta after four days of sit-in protest against targetted killings
QUETTA: After repeated demands made by the Hazara community for the provision of protection and security, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday arrived in Quetta and held a high-level meeting with notables of the community along with senior civil and military officials, including Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.
The COAS also assessed the security situation in the provincial capital.
Balochistan Chief Minister Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, Inspector General Police (IGP) Moazzam Jah Ansari, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor and Southern Command Commander Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa also attended the meeting.
The delegation of the Hazara community was led by Balochistan Law Minister Agha Raza and Allama Hashim. Majlis Wahadatul Muslimeen (MWM) Secretary General Allama Assadi and other members including Nasir Shah, Qayyum Changaizi, Daoud Agha, Allama Jumma Assadi were also present on the occasion.
The meeting came after the Hazara community continued its sit-in against unabated target killing in Quetta for the fourth day on Tuesday.
On Monday night, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal assured the Hazara community to employ all efforts in ensuring their security and said that law enforcement agencies have been ordered to arrest the culprits behind the recent attacks on the Hazara community.
The minister gave this assurance during his late night visit to the sit-in staged on Zarghoon Road near the Balochistan Assembly in Quetta by Minister for Law Agha Raza along with his supporters.
Expressing solidarity with the community, Iqbal said federal and provincial government and LEAs had taken measures to eliminate militants and their facilitators.
On the other hand, the hunger strike against Hazara community members’ target killings in Balochistan entered its fourth day on Tuesday outside the Quetta Press Club (QPC).
Led by civil rights activist Advocate Jalila Haider, a large number of Hazara community members have set up a hunger strike camp and are demanding full implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) to bust terrorist networks active in Balochistan.
The protestors are also demanding an end to the targeted killings of Hazaras and are seeking justice for the two Hazara men killed recently.
Similarly, Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen’s (MWM) also continued protesting for the second day against targetted killings of Hazara community members.
Provincial minister Syed Agha Raza led the MWM protest in front of the Balochistan Assembly. Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal visited the camp to negotiate with Raza. He was informed that the protest would continue until Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the camp.
The interior minister, after the meeting, tweeted, “In last five years, the situation has much improved with killings dropping from 215 in 2014 to 8. Our efforts will continue to bring it to zero”.
Over the past few days, six persons have been killed and three wounded in Quetta.
The brother of a local mosque’s imam was shot dead on April 27 on Toghi Road, followed by the targeted killings of two other people on Jamaluddin Afghani Road. All three people were Hazaras.
On April 29, three people were murdered by unknown attackers who fired at random on shops located on Jan Mohammad Road.
Later, a shutter-down strike was observed in several parts of the city and Hazara Democratic Party held a rally led by Ali Kohzad.
MQM-P DELEGATION VISIT:
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) delegation comprising Quetta Joint In Charge Yasir Shah, Joint Zonal In Charge Yasir Faheem and others attended the Dharna’s outside QPC. They expressed solidarity with the Hazara community and assured them of their support.