Pakistani PM to meet Shiites refusing to bury dead
QUETTA, Pakistan (AFP) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf arrived Sunday in the southwestern city of Quetta to meet Shiite Muslim families refusing to bury their dead after devastating bombings, officials said.
At least 92 people were killed and 121 wounded Thursday in twin suicide attacks claimed by Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in an area dominated by Shiites from the Hazara ethnic minority.
It was the worst ever sectarian attack on Shiites, who account for around 20 per cent of Pakistan’s 180 million people and are regularly targeted for attack by Sunni extremists. Shiite families have refused to bury their dead and vowed to continue a sit-in protest with thousands of others until the army takes over security in the city. They have been sitting in the open with the bodies for the past 48 hours.
Refusal to bury the dead is an extreme protest in Islamic society, where the deceased are normally buried the same day or the next day. But families say they will not leave until the authorities agree to put the security and administration of the city under army control.
“Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has arrived in Quetta, he will meet the leaders of the Hazara community,” a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. An AFP reporter said up to 8,000 people including women and children had gathered at the protest and faced a cold night in the open with the coffins of more than 60 of the dead. “Quetta has become a killing field and we are protesting to stop target killings,” said a protester who identified himself as Ali Raza.