Quetta massacre: Hazaras agree to bury dead

QUETTA: Scores of coffins that have stood in neat rows, most with pictures of the victims of the Hazara Town carnage, in Quetta since Sunday will finally reach their final destination on Wednesday (today). 

In the late hours of Tuesday, Shia leaders and grieving relatives finally agreed to bury the dead after hours of intense negotiations.

Addressing a press conference, flanked by relatives of the victims, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) General Secretary Allama Amin Shahidi said that even though an earlier announcement calling of the protests had been opposed by some young protesters, the heirs of the victims had accepted their announcement wholeheartedly.

The victims will be buried today at 9am, said Shahidi, adding that Shia leaders stood with the families of victims and would not allow anyone to politicise their movement.

Be that as it may, relatives of the victims, who spoke during the press conference, said that even though they had agreed to end the sit-in and bury the dead, their demands had to be implemented immediately.

When asked about army deployment in Quetta, Shahidi said the army had refused to enter the city limits. He went on to add that protesters who were still carrying out sit-ins in some parts of the country would be asked to peacefully disperse.

Earlier, Shia leaders had called off the protest after receiving assurances by a team of cabinet ministers sent by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to negotiate with the protesters. Thousands of protesters were told to go home by leaders of the MWM and Quetta Yekjehti Council (QYC).

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who was heading the government’s negotiation team, said four suspects had been killed and 170 people arrested within hours of the government announcing an operation against the militants.

Kaira had promised the operation would “arrest all the culprits and eliminate them” and said a committee would be set up to oversee the protesters’ demands for compensation, protection and jobs for families of the victims.

However, despite the government efforts to placate the bereaved, the Hazara community initially refused to bury their kin until the army was deployed in the provincial capital.

“The sit-in protest all over Pakistan is now finished and people should disperse peacefully,” MWM’s Allama Amin Shahidi had said earlier in the day alongside the head of the Hazara tribe, Sardar Sahadat Ali Hazara.

“The government has assured us that they will fulfil all our demands. The governor and the government told us that a targeted operation has begun, which will continue until all the culprits are eliminated.”

Saturday’s bombing in Quetta killed 90 people.

The government delegation comprised of Kaira, PPP MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, PPP MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan, PPP Senator Sughra Imam, PPP MNA Yasmeen Rehman and Federal Minister for Political Affairs Maula Bakhsh Chandio.

The committee members met Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and thoroughly discussed the law and order situation in the province. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali, Balochistan chief secretary and other top officials were present during the meeting.

The government officials later met with QYC leaders and other religious scholars to persuade them to end their sit-in. After a detailed meeting, Shahidi told the media the two sides had reached consensus on all points except the deployment of the army in the city.

Published in The Express Tribune

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