Does LeJ aim at initiating civil war in Balochistan?
The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) has announced to stage more demonstrations on Sunday and blocking all major national highways linking Quetta to Karachi, Jacobabad, Taftan and Afghanistan.
This announcement came after at least seven persons were injured on Saturday when gunmen opened fire on a rally of the ASWJ at Liaquat Baazar, downtown area of the provincial capital.
Soon after the shooting, leaders and workers of ASWJ reached Civil Hospital Quetta and staged a sit-in to protest against the incident. Reacting to the incident ASWJ activists also blocked Jinnah Road.
According to some analysts selection of Quetta to stage a rally was aimed at challenging the Hazaras that ASWJ not only has the capacity to kill members belonging to the sect but also the courage that they can move around freely. This is evident from a picture placed on the website of Dawn newspaper.
The Hazara community on Saturday demanded that Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) Chief Malik Ishaq be put on trial, a day after he was arrested following deadly sectarian attacks in Quetta. Ishaq, who leads the banned militant outfit, was held on Friday after two recent bombings in the southwestern city targeting the Shia Hazara and killing more than 180 people, sparking nationwide protests.
“We have always been demanding arrest of all those involved in any act of sectarian violence, irrespective of their party affiliation,” said Abdul Khaliq Hazara, leader of the Shiite Hazara Democratic Party. “Ishaq must be brought to justice and punished for involvement in violence,” he added.
Ishaq, who has been arrested before, was released by a court on bail in July 2011, even though he has been implicated in dozens of murders. His latest arrest – which came a day after the Pakistani army denied any links to LeJ – should not be an “eye wash”, said Sajid Naqvi, leader of the Shia Ulema Council.
The LeJ leader said on Friday that he had been arrested in connection with the Quetta bombings. Earlier, he has been detained by authorities for one month a week after the banned religious outfit claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing in Quetta killing over 90 people. Speaking to reporters prior to his arrest, Ishaq denied any involvement in the Quetta bombing or any such incident.
A spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Punjab, Pervaiz Rasheed, confirmed the news and said Ishaq would be held for one month. “There were complaints against him, that he had been making provocative speeches in the past month,” he said. Interestingly he forgot to mention that LeJ has been accepting responsibilities of targeting Shias, particularly Hazaras.
Ishaq is said to be one of the founders of LeJ, which is accused of sectarian killings and has accepted claim of several attacks on the ethnic Hazara Shia population in Balochistan. According to police records, Ishaq was involved in more than 40 cases relating to sectarianism and terrorism in which 70 people, most of them Shias, were killed.
The Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) has demanded of the federal government to convene joint session of the parliament to discuss the killings of ethnic Shia Hazaras in Quetta.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) Central Chairman Abdul Khaliq Hazara said, “We have buried more than 1,200 people during last few years,” He also claimed that the victims of targeted killings and suicide attacks also included a large number of women and children.
“We have always been demanding arrest of all those involved in any act of sectarian violence, irrespective of their party affiliation,” said Abdul Khaliq Hazara. “Ishaq must be brought to justice and punished for involvement in violence,” he added.