Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: British Pakistanis have begun a sit-in outside Pakistan High Commission against the killing of at least 89 Hazara Shias who have been martyred on Kirani Road at a vegetable market located in Hazara Town.
Organized by Imamians UK, Majlis-e-Ulema Shia Europe and Hazara organizations, participants of the sit-in include a large number of women and children who are protesting against the continued pogrom of Shias in various cities of Pakistan, particularly targeting of Hazaras in Quetta, and the inability of the security institutions to take steps to arrest the perpetrators of the attacks or provide security to vulnerable communities.
The protest began on Sunday afternoon when Hazara International Forum and Hazara United Movement arranged a protest to raise our voice against the decade-long persecution of the Pakistani Hazaras. More than 500 people attended the demonstration at the short notice which ended after four hours but the Imamians UK, which only a few days ago had organised three days long sit-in against Alamdaar Road killings, announced that it will remain on the road outside Pakistan’s High Commission for as long as Shia communities in Pakistan continue their protest.
They said the government of Pakistan is fully aware of the incessant targeted attacks, suicide bombings, planted and remote-controlled bombs, happening repeatedly against Hazaras in Quetta while the security personnel, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies have completely failed to foil them. They alleged that the government has failed to prosecute any of the perpetrators, their financiers, and supporters and in fact, they alleged, elements within the government and security forces were providing guidance and shelter to extremist sectarian elements.
Veteran Hazara community leader Haji Agha Marzooq Ali told The News that “apathetic attitude of the government of Pakistan has convinced people to take independent measures at times of crises which will only exacerbate the already volatile situation of the province”. He said Hazaras have sacrificed a lot for Pakistan and all they want from the government is security of their life and property, nothing illegal and unconstitutional.
He said the latest attack could have been thwarted should the intelligence agencies and law enforcement departments had utilized all available resources to do so. A petition presented to Pakistan HC officials demanded that the Quetta city be handed over to the army without any delay; that the government must ensure to initiate surgical operation against Sipah-e-Sahaba, Taliban, and Lashker-e-Jhangvi; arrested members of banned outfits must be brought before justice; and families of the martyrs must be compensated from 2006 onwards.
Separately, a group calling itself Dual National Pakistanis (UK) brought at least 200 supporters to the PHC and raised slogans in favor of the “equal treatment” of overseas Pakistanis. Men and women carrying banners and placards demanded rights for overseas Pakistanis and called on Pakistani institutions to show respect to dual nationals and make sure that they get the same level of respects and rights that ordinary Pakistanis living in Pakistan get. It is understood that the protestor belonged to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran Movement. There were more young women in protest than men who chanted slogans “we want, equal rights”, “we love Pakistan”. They said that overseas Pakistanis were loyal to their country of origin, even 2nd and 3rd generation, and their loyalties must not be suspected.
Also, Pakistani doctors in London held a peaceful protest outside Pakistan High Commission to call on the Punjab government to fulfill its promises made to Young Doctors Association in order to end their strike. They said that although the hunger strike has ended, they wanted the Punjab government to pay attention to the demands of doctors.
At least three members of the YDA were also present who now work in London. Organised by Dr Sabreena Razaq, Dr Mudassar and Dr Shahid Latif, the young doctors said Pakistan was facing “brain drain” because the services of young doctors were not being appreciated in Pakistan. They said young doctors want repair of machinery, reverting victimising tools and fast-track implementation of service structure.