Shias criticize army chief over Quetta

Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (R) meets with soldiers (file photo)

Pakistani Shia leaders have criticized the country’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani over law and order situation in the country after more than 100 people, mostly Shia Muslims, were killed in Thursday’s bombings.

“I ask the army chief: What have you done with these extra three years you got (in office). What did you give us except more death,” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, a central leader of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, told a press conference in the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday.

“They (the victims) will not be buried until the army comes into Quetta,” Shaheedi said.

At least 92 Pakistanis lost their lives and more than 200 others were injured in twin bomb attacks that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiards hall in Quetta. Earlier in the day, 12 security forces were also killed in a bomb explosion at a security check point in the city.

In another incident, a bomb detonated inside a mosque in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest of Islamabad, leaving 25 Sunni Muslims dead and 80 others wounded.

Early on Saturday, irate Shia leaders in Quetta demanded that the military take control of the violence-hit city to protect them and stated they would not allow the victims of the twin bombing to be buried until their demands were met.

Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch, said, “Last year was the bloodiest year for Shias in living memory.”

“More than 400 were killed and if yesterday’s attack is any indication, it’s just going to get worse,” he added.

Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered an alliance with the United States in the so-called war against terrorism.

Since late 2009, there has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan. Thousands have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping the country.

GJH/MHB