Prayers and protests in front of the Press Club. In 2016, more than 30 attacks on Islamic sects. The Shiites ignored by the prime minister and the army chief. Lower compensation for Shiite victims of petrol tanker tragedy. Christians and Hindus solidarity with the Shiite community.
Lahore (AsiaNews) - As Muslims around the country reel from Eid al-Fitr hangover[the feast for the end of Ramadan, marking the conclusion of the holy month of fasting and prayer - ndr], thousands of Shias spent their week observing hunger strikes against recent bombings in a tribal town.
“It is our right to live here in Pakistan. We demand army to return to their barracks and hand over the security to local people who know mountainous terrains and routes. Our people are in acute inferiority complex, neither prime minister nor army chief has visited the bomb victims”, Muhammad Asghar Askari Deputy Secretary General Majlis e Wahdat Muslimeen, a Shiite Political organization, told AsiaNews.
Askari is among several clerics who have been leading prayers and protests at Islamabad press club since twin bombings rocked Parachinar, the largest city of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [Pakistani province located on the northwestern border of the country , Ndr]. The death toll had reached 75 since June 23 attack near a bus terminal. The second explosion targeted rescuers and bystanders who rushed to aid the injured.
The attacks on Parachinar, where 96 percent of 50,000 population are Shias, mark the third time the city has been rocked by an act of terrorism. This March 31, 23 died in a car bomb blast near an Imambargah (a hall of congregation for Shia ceremonies). In January, 25 people were killed and 87 others suffered injuries when a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in the city.
Meanwhile government is gearing up for crackdown on social media as local activists post videos against army. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has directed the cybercrime wing of Federal Investigation Agency FIA to trace the elements behind the ‘malicious’ campaign and take strict action against them.
Askari also condemned the blackout by mainstream electronic media. “Seven more Shias were killed when FC, a paramilitary force in Parachinar, opened fire on protestors hours after the blast. The news of headshots was also ignored”, he said, adding “20 lakh rupees (16713.36 euros) were announced for those who died in a recent oil tanker inferno in Punjab but families of deceased Shias will be given only 3 lakh. The state should stop this discriminatory attitude. The sit in will only end after PM or army chief visit Parachinar”.
Religious minorities including Christians and Hindus are also expressing solidarity with Shia community. More than 20 Christians held a candle vigil for the bomb victims at Lahore press club on third day of Eid. Pakistan Hindu Council PHC also addressed the situation in a statement issued on June 28. “After army operations, the panicked terrorists have started tacking out the easy targets. Those spreading sectarianism are not well-wishers of the country. There may be outside forced involved in terror attacks on Parachinar city. The enemies want to tear apart the national unity”, stated Ramesh Kumar Vankwani Member National Assembly and Patron in Chief PHC.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan HRCP argues that Shiites have increasingly become a target of militant intolerance and extremism. The Commission's annual report for 2016 states that last year militants carried out more than 30 attacks on Islamic sects, including Shiite.