Shia Muslims in the Quetta province of Pakistan have taken an extreme decision – not to bury more than 80 people who died in one of the most deadly attacks on Shiite Muslims from the Hazara community.
The twin bombings, allegedly carried out by Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), targeted a snooker hall Thursday, which killed at least 92 people and wounded 121, according to reports.
Reacting to the violence targeted on Hazara Muslims, hundreds of thousands of women and children braved the severe cold and stood near the coffins carrying victims' shrouded bodies.
According to Islamic rituals, dead bodies must be buried the same day. However, the Hazara Shias have taken this extreme stand to demand Pakistani army to take hold over the security and prevent further attacks on the Shiite community.
The Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the attack in the predominantly Shia neighborhood populated by ethnic Hazaras Muslims. The Hazaras are originally from Afghanistan and apparently migrate to Pakistan around nineteenth century.
According to a report, the Hazaras constitute about 20 percent of the population of Afghanistan. They have Asian (Mongolian) features which distinguish those from the people of Afghanistan. Because of their physical, religious and linguistic differences, the Hazara Shias are despised and persecuted in Afghanistan and Pakistan which continues even today.
The LeJ intends to impose a Sunni theocracy in Pakistan by conflagrating Sunni-Shia violence. The south-western province has been in the grip of sectarian violence since last few months. The LeJ has been bombing religious processions and shooting Shiite civilians pushing the region to the brink of a civil war.
Shia leaders now want the Pakistani the military to take control of Quetta. They would not allow the victims of the twin bomb attacks to be buried until their demands are met.
Defending the decision not to bury the dead bodies, a Shia leader, Daud Khan told reporters, "We realize there is a problem in keeping the dead bodies in the open for so long but our concern now is the safety of those who are alive."
The news of the attack on the Shias in Quetta triggered rallies and protests in the Pakistani cities of Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi. To express solidarity with the plight of Hazaras, a number of political parties are planning to mark Sunday as a day of protest.
Shia youths also staged protests in the streets of London. The protesters targeted the Pakistan High Commission in London and expressed their outrage on what they considered genocide of Hazara Shias, and the incapability of the government to establish law and order in Pakistan.