News / Asia

    Anger Rises in Pakistan Over Killings of Shi'ite Muslims

    Shi'ite Muslims display the unburied coffins of victims of Thursday's twin bomb attack during a sit-in in Quetta, January 12, 2013.
    Shi'ite Muslims display the unburied coffins of victims of Thursday's twin bomb attack during a sit-in in Quetta, January 12, 2013.
    Anger and frustration rose in Pakistan Saturday over bomb blasts that killed almost 100 Shi'ite Muslims, with critics saying the government is failing to protect the nation's religious minority.
     
    Shi'ite families in the southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday have refused to bury their dead to protest the bomb blasts that killed almost 100 people Thursday. Sunni militants claimed responsibility for the attack.
     
    One Shi'ite community leader criticized Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, for failing to halt the killings. Such attacks have been increasing steadily, according to Pakistan Human Rights Watch, which says more than 400 Shi'ites were killed last year.

    Quetta, Pakistan mapQuetta, Pakistan map
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    Quetta, Pakistan map
    Quetta, Pakistan map
    Call for sympathy protests

    Pakistanis anxious to reduce the violence reached out through social media Saturday, calling for sympathy protests in the capital, Islamabad, and other major cities.
     
    Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said in a statement the government has given the paramilitary Frontier Corps expanded powers to control violence in the province. He also promised financial compensation would go to affected families.
     
    Analyst Raza Rumi said it remains to be seen if public pressure rises to a point that forces political leaders and the military to act against terrorist and militant organizations operating in Pakistan.
     
    "There is no shortcut in Pakistan now for the military to act other than public pressure - intense public pressure, scrutiny and naming and shaming - because, you know, it is quite clear the military is not keen to do anything, or even the government, about these terrorist organizations," said Rumi.

    Multiple explosions

    The same day the explosions in Quetta targeted Shi'ites living there, another blast by the Baluch nationalist network killed 12 people, mostly security personnel. A fourth explosion in northwest Pakistan killed more than 20 Muslim missionaries.
     
    The violence and subsequent criticism of the government and security forces comes as Pakistan is gearing up for national elections expected in a few months.
     
    Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International says putting an end to terrorist violence is a challenge with which any new government will have to grapple.
     
    "Now it's up to the political parties to provide really concrete steps and plans for what they will do differently when in government," said Qadri. "And of course for the government right now, we still have several months before the elections, but the new government really now has this pressure on its shoulders to really do things differently and to do the reforms that are needed to stop this stuff from happening again."

    Qadri said that in the past, when the state has had the will to bring perpetrators to justice and to protect victims, Pakistan has shown the capacity to do so.

    • People mourn next to the coffins of their relatives who were killed in bombings, Quetta, Pakistan, January 11, 2013.
    • People attend funeral prayers for a victim who was killed by a bomb blast, in Mingora, Swat valley, Pakistan, January 11, 2013.
    • Shi'ite Muslims hold a silent protest a day after deadly blasts in Quetta, Pakistan, January 11, 2013. (H. Samsoor/VOA)
    • Journalists hold a black flag outside the Quetta Press Club to mourn the three journalists killed in the January 10th explosions in the city, Quetta, Pakistan, January 11, 2013.
    • A paramilitary soldier frisks a man at the entrance of a mosque in Mingora, Swat valley, Pakistan a day after deadly bombings, January 11, 2013.
    • A man takes a photograph with his mobile phone of a house that was damaged by a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, January 11, 2013.
    • People walk around the debris from a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, January 10, 2013. (Hameed Samsor/VOA)
    • Police and residents at the site of a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, January 10, 2013. (Hameed Samsor/VOA)
    • The site of bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, January 10, 2013. (Hameed Samsor/VOA)

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: CrygDyllyn from: USA
    January 13, 2013 9:38 AM
    When Pakistan and India were both founded they were about the same. Look at the difference today. Pakistan is almost a failed state while India has a booming economy, a growing middle class, and a robust civil life. In India, people of all faiths practice their faiths with no fear or hatred.

    In Pakistan, Islamic hatred rules. If you are non-muslim you are in danger. If you are not the right kind of muslim you are in danger. And if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time you are in danger.

    Now we read about Islamic discrimination in Aceh Indonesia. I don't think there is one Islamic country where people are happy, and allowed to live their lives. To all appearances, Islam is the religion of hate.

    by: Walter Johnson
    January 12, 2013 8:22 PM
    Someone please tell me why there is more hostility among Islam's religious sects than among Christian denominations. In Islam it appears like a religious war inside its own home.
    In Response

    by: Leonard Evans from: MI
    January 13, 2013 10:29 PM
    Your ignorance of history is something quite astonishing! When Christians really believed they were slaughtering each other and 'infidels' with relish, as God commanded . Europe, 100 years war, Inquisition, Crusades, and so on. Today the Christian denominations believe very little that is different from what other folks believe. So what is there to fight over?
    In Response

    by: L
    January 13, 2013 8:33 AM
    Have the same Q....

    by: syed naqvi from: oklahoma city
    January 12, 2013 5:49 PM
    This is genocide.
    In Response

    by: Walter Johnson
    January 12, 2013 8:26 PM
    The sects of Islam are not racial groups, although they may break down along tribal lines. What are you calling genocide. The level of violence has come no where need as great as in recognized genocides the international community has intervened in.

    by: Anonymous
    January 12, 2013 4:09 PM
    Gods be with them

    by: Alm757 from: dallas
    January 12, 2013 2:23 PM
    My condolance with families who's loved one's were forceiably removed from them. May Allah ellevate their souls in heaven and give strength to rest of the families to bear this loss, and bring justice they are looking for.

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