Balochistan officials fired over Shia attacks

Provincial government dismissed by Pakistan prime minister three days after more than 90 Hazara Shias killed in Quetta.

Pakistan Quetta protest
Outlawed Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack on Shias in Quetta [EPA]

The provincial Balochistan government has been dismissed over its handling of the recent attacks on Shia community, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the Pakistani prime minister, has announced on TV.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani’s government has been dismissed in the province, which means it will come directly under the federal government. The notification of the decision will be put forward on Monday.

“We have decided to impose governor’s rule in Balochistan for two months; the provincial government will be sacked,” Ashraf said, using a term for direct rule by the central government. “It is a national tragedy and the entire nation is saddened over it.”

The decision comes three days after more than 90 Hazara Shias were killed in blasts in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. It allows the governor to call on the army to help control law and order.

The Shias refused to bury their dead and demanded sacking of the provincial government and imposition of military rule for their protection, and people across the main cities in Pakistan held vigil and protest in solidarity with them.

Now that part of their demands being met by the government, they agreed to begin burying the victims, according to Qayyum Changazi, the chairman of a national group representing Shia Muslims.

Deadliest year for Shia

Earlier, the prime minister met mourners in Quetta where thousands of Shias protested for a third night, pressing their demands for greater security by blocking a main road with dozens of coffins of relatives killed in the attack.

The bombing in a billiards hall was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian group allied with Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

Solidarity protests were reported on Sunday in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and especially Karachi, where hundreds gathered outside the Pakistani president’s private house.

In Lahore, protesters gathered outside the home of the governor of Punjab province.

Outside the Pakistani embassy in London people gathered to mourn the victims and protest in solidarity with Shias across Pakistan. As similar protest was reported in Toronto, Canada.

Last year was the deadliest ever for Pakistan’s Shia community, with over 400 people dead in targeted killings. Violence has been especially intense in Balochistan.

Source: News Agencies