Quetta falls dead after killings of Hazara Shias

Hazara Shia community

QUETTA: A complete wheel-jam and shutter down was observed on Sunday in the provincial capital against the recent killings of Hazara Shias, badly affecting already frail local business activity, while the government decided to launch a targeted operation against extremists.

The strike was observed on the call of Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), and was backed by Balochistan National Party (BNP), Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). Eighteen members of Hazara Shia community were killed in the last couple of days in Quetta, where sectarian violence by extremist groups has further deteriorated security problems caused by separatist elements.All the markets, business centres and establishments, and shops, including pharmacies and bakeries, remained closed in major commercial areas such as Liaqat Bazaar, Meezan Chowk, Abdul Sattar Road, Prince Road, Jinnah Road, Zarghoon Road, Brewery Road, Hazara Town and Marriabad.

Strict security measures had been taken with the deployment of the Balochistan Frontier Corps (FC), police and Balochistan Constabulary at various points in the city, particularly the sensitive areas.The city wore a deserted look, as no traffic was seen in all main areas. In the outskirts, very light traffic continued to ply on the roads. In some peripheral areas like Sariab and the Airport Road, there was a partial strike, and some markets and shops continued to do business.Meanwhile, police and security forces detained over 200 people for violating the ban on pillion riding in the city. The ban was imposed by the government under Section 144 after tension gripped the provincial capital in the wake of sectarian killings, besides considering that a majority of people would prefer to stay home during the wheel-jam strike.

Meanwhile, the provincial government decided to launch a targeted operation against individuals involved in sectarian killings, and called 20 platoons of FC in addition to 300 Levies personnel for assisting police against the extremists.The decision was made in a high-level meeting chaired by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani to review the law and order situation in the wake of recent sectarian killings.Provincial Home Minister Zafarullah Zahri, and ministers Ali Madad Jatak, Babu Amin Umrani, Haji Ismail Gujjar, Jan Ali Changaizi, Mir Nasir Jamali, Tahir Mahmood Khan, Izmarak Achakzai, Chief Secretary Babar Yaqub Fatah Mohammad, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Rao Amin Mohammad Hashim, FC Commandant Brigadier Shahzad, Home Secretary Nasebullah Bazai, leaders of Shia Conference, Hazara community notables and religious leaders were also present in the meeting. The government decided to give police and other law enforcement agencies a free hand in acting against terrorists.

The chief minister reiterated that the terrorists targeting innocent Hazara Shia Muslims had the backing of foreign elements. He urged religious scholars and political leaders to come forward and foil the enemies’ nefarious designs by maintaining unity and harmony. He said that the recent killings were not sectarian, but were aimed at pitting one community against the other – a deep conspiracy against Balochistan and its people as well as Pakistan. The meeting approved a comprehensive medium and long term security plan for restoring peace and tranquillity in the provincial capital. Under the plan, a targeted operation would be launched against terrorists involved in fanning sectarian violence and other heinous crimes taking place in Quetta. It was also decided that the general public and their elected representatives would be taken into confidence during the targeted operation in their respective areas to improve the performance of law enforcing agencies.

The meeting decided to constitute committees comprising assembly members to constantly monitor the implementation of the security plan, and monitor its results by keeping coordination with the law enforcement agencies.Home and Tribal Affairs Secretary Naseebullah Bazai informed the meeting that Quetta city would be divided in 20 sectors, and gave details about the presence of police check posts, pickets and patrolling teams. He said that departmental action would be taken against police officials found guilty of negligence in the duties, or for causing any untoward incident in their jurisdiction. The government will set up scanner gates at all exit and entry points of Quetta, while check posts manned by FC, police and Levies would be established on the highways.

Around 250 close circuit TV (CCTV) cameras would be installed in the city, while police and Balochistan Levies would be provided with sophisticated weapons, transportation facilities and communication equipment. The provincial ministers voluntarily surrendered the additional police personnel deployed for their security during their movement, and informed the meeting that they would remove the black papers pasted on the screens of their vehicles. The meeting also decided to launch an operation against illegal weapons, smuggled vehicles, and those with tainted glasses without any discrimination. – PT