Pak’s Shiite leaders call end to protests against attacks
Karachi: Shiite leaders today called for an end to countrywide protests after Pakistani security forces launched an operation against extremists responsible for targeting the minority sect and detained 170 suspects, even as Shia groups in Quetta refused to end their agitation.
Thousands of Shias, including women and children, began their protest on Saturday after a bomb attack in Quetta killed 89 people, a majority of them Shia Hazaras.
Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslimeen deputy chief Allama Amin Shaheedi, a top Shia leader, announced the end of the protest in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, this evening after talks with a parliamentary delegation led by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira.
"The parliamentary committee has accepted all our demands and after their assurance that the army will carry out a targeted operation against banned groups in Quetta, we announce the end of our sit-in and the burial of the dead will begin soon," Shaheedi told reporters.
Kaira said the government had accepted all "valid demands" of the protesters but did not give details.
A "targeted operation" against militants had begun in Quetta last night.
Four wanted men were killed and 170 others arrested.
A large quantity of arms and ammunition were seized and the operation will "continue till its logical conclusion", he said.
However, Shia groups said they would continue their protest till the security of Quetta is handed over to the army, a demand the federal government is not willing to concede.
The families of victims of Saturday's bombing at Hazara Town said they would not bury their dead until the army takes control of Quetta.
Thousands of Shia Hazaras, including women and children, have joined a sit-in protest with bodies of the victims that began three days ago.
"We want the military to take control of Quetta and carry out a targeted operation against the culprits, who should be hanged in public," one protester told a TV news channel.