Thursday, March 30, 2023

Pakistani Shiites End Protests; organize funerals for 11 minors killed | ISIL / ISIS News

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Protesters staged a sit-in after the ISIL group captured and shot the miners last Sunday in Machh, east of Quetta.

Hundreds of Pakistani Shiites gathered on Saturday to bury 11 coal miners from the Hazara community killed by the armed group ISIL (ISIS), ending a week of protests aimed at highlighting the plight of the minority.

Protesters staged a sit-in after ISIL fighters captured and shot the miners last Sunday in Machh, an area 17 km east of Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s struggling Balochistan province.

Shiites from across the country have joined the protests – including blocking roads in major cities – demanding that Prime Minister Imran Khan visit the mourning community of Quetta and ensure their protection.

Ethnic Hazaras make up the bulk of Quetta’s Shia population. Balochistan is the largest and poorest region in the country, plagued by ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

Their Central Asian characteristics make them easy targets for Sunni attackers who view them as heretics.

Agreement reached

Authorities on Friday promised the arrest of the attackers, the payment of compensation to bereaved families and better security for the Hazara.

More than 4,000 people attended the last rites of dead miners whose bodies were buried under enhanced security six days after their death.

“The provincial government will form a joint investigation team to recommend measures against those found guilty of negligence leading to the incident,” said an agreement, a copy of which was obtained by the AFP news agency.

The agreement also called for the creation of a high-level commission headed by the Balochistan interior minister to investigate attacks on the Hazara community over the past 22 years.

Khan on Friday called on protesters not to link the burial of the coal miners to his visit to Quetta, vowing he would come next. According to Islamic tradition, burials take place as soon as possible after death.

“No prime minister of a country should be subjected to blackmail like this,” Khan said in televised remarks.

Dozens of Shiites gathered in the capital of Islamabad on Friday, denouncing Khan for calling the mourning singers.

The prime minister’s office said on Saturday Khan had flown to Quetta and was due to arrive shortly.

The prime minister had previously sent a group of ministers and senior officials to negotiate with the Hazara community, leading mourners to agree to a funeral.

Often criticized

Violent attacks against Shiites and other religious minority groups remain a serious problem in predominantly Sunni Pakistan.

Prior to coming to power in 2018, Khan often criticized Pakistani leaders for not doing more to stop the attacks on the Hazara minority community, and for not rushing to Quetta to offer condolences after similar assaults.

The ISIL group kidnapped and then shot the miners in Balochistan on Sunday.

Police video of their bodies revealed the miners were blindfolded and hands tied behind their backs before being shot.

The ISIL affiliate quickly claimed responsibility and since then authorities have raided hiding places to arrest those who orchestrated the killings, although Khan insisted that Pakistan’s neighbor the India, was at the origin of the violence in Balochistan.


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