Shias attacked

SHIAS ATTACKED

The latest incident of violence targeted at the minority Shia community took place in Balochistan's capital city of Quetta, home to the Hazara Shias, who originate from Afghanistan's Hazara province. The Punjab-based Sunni terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for a bomb blast on February 16. The death toll has crossed 80 and the number of wounded people exceeds 200. Last month, around 100 Shias were killed by religious extremists in Balochistan. The kin of the deceased refused to bury the dead until the federal government assured them of protection. The president then dismissed the provincial government in Balochistan and imposed governor's rule. But the situation hasn't improved. There were similar pressure tactics by the kin of the dead: they refused to conduct funerals and demanded the army's intervention. There were nationwide strikes demanding the federal government's promise to safeguard their interests.

Daily Times reported on February 20: "Thousands of Shias called off nationwide protests on Tuesday and agreed to bury the dead from a bombing that killed 89 people, after the government promised to arrest those responsible. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf sent cabinet ministers to Quetta to negotiate with protesters and announced a 'targeted operation' to arrest those responsible for the attack..." Dawn reported on February 22: "The political crisis in Balochistan is likely to be over soon... First governor's rule will be lifted and then a session of the provincial assembly will be called to elect a new chief minister..."

BLASPHEMY CASE

PAKISTAN'S ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, who also served as the information minister till 2009, is embroiled in a blasphemy case. She is known for her secular views. Daily Times reported on February 22: "Rehman has already faced death threats from militants after calling for reforms to the country's anti-blasphemy law, according to court documents. Two politicians who suggested reforming the law were assassinated. The case against Rehman was brought by businessman Muhammad Faheem Gill, 31, who said that the comments Rehman made about the law on the Pakistani talk show in 2010 were blasphemous... Gill went to the Supreme Court with his complaint after police refused to register it. The court ordered police in Multan to investigate".

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