Pak PM sacks Baloch govt after Shia attacks


Yielding to protests over the killing of nearly 100 Shias in Quetta, Pakistan Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf Monday sacked Balochistan government and imposed Governor's Rule in the troubled southwestern province.

The move came as Shia protesters picketed on the streets of Balochistan capital Quetta with bodies of their community members killed in Pakistan's worst sectarian bombings last Thursday. They had refused to bury the dead till their demand for dissolution of the provincial government was met.

Ashraf announced the federal government's decision at 1.30 am during a meeting with Shia leaders at Alamdar Road, a Shia neighbourhood in Quetta where 98 were killed and over 120 injured in bomb attacks on Thursday.

"After all consultations, we have decided to invoke Article 234 of the Constitution in Balochistan and this gives the power for Governor's Rule...The Governor will be the chief executive and the provincial government has been dismissed," the Prime Minister said, prompting cheers from Shia leaders.

However, the government did not concede to a demand from the ethnic Hazara Shias for the army to be given control of Quetta to improve security for the vulnerable minority community and carry out operations against sectarian groups like the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

When Shia leaders repeated the demand for the army to be given control of Quetta, Ashraf said Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and the civil administration would have the authority to call in the military if needed.

The sit-in in Quetta had sparked similar protests by Shia and civil society groups in towns and cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Multan, Chakwal, Peshawar, Gilgit and Parachinar.

Qadri's 'long march' inches towards Islamabad

Tens of thousands of protesters led by fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri Monday inched towards Islamabad demanding sweeping electoral reforms, as authorities put up barricades and deployed riot police turning the Pakistani capital into a virtual fortress. Qadri, who began his "long march" in Lahore Sunday, was moving towards Islamabad with around 30,000 to 50,000 supporters, witnesses in Punjab said. Hundreds of supporters gathered at Constitution Avenue in the heart of Islamabad, where the march is expected to end.

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