|Stop violence against Pakistani Shias, Indian women say||
Hundreds of women have held a demonstration in the southern Indian city of Bangalore to protest against the recent killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan.
On January 10, nearly 130 people were killed and many others injured in a wave of deadly attacks targeting both Pakistani security guards and civilians, including many Shia Muslims, in the country.
More than 90 of the victims lost their lives in twin bomb attacks that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiard hall in Quetta. The outlawed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the billiard hall attack.
On Friday, the protesters gathered in the Indian city and shouted slogans condemning the Shia killings in the neighboring South Asian country and criticized Pakistan’s security forces for failing to provide security to the country’s Shia Muslims.
The demonstrators were carrying placards reading “Indian Muslims stand united against Taliban terrorists", "Stop Shia killing in Pakistan" and "I protest the killing of innocent Shias in Pakistan."
Most of the protesters held up signs reading “My brother has been martyred -- My son has been martyred."
The demonstrators also denounced the Saudi Arabian policy of funding extremist groups that commit acts of violence against other Muslims in Pakistan.
Human rights groups have vehemently criticized the Pakistani government for its failure to stem the rising tide of violence against the country’s Shia Muslims.
On January 11, the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch also commented on the issue.
“2012 was the bloodiest year for Pakistan’s Shia community in living memory and if this latest attack is any indication, 2013 has started on an even more dismal note,” Ali Dayan Hasan said.
“As Shia community members continue to be slaughtered in cold blood, the callousness and indifference of authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military, and security agencies,” Hasan said.
“Pakistan’s tolerance for religious extremists is not just destroying lives and alienating entire communities, it is destroying Pakistani society across the board,” he added.
On January 13, Pakistani leaders dismissed the government of southwest Baluchistan province in response to the demands of thousands of protesters, who had blocked a main road in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta with dozens of coffins of relatives killed in the twin bombing of the billiard hall in the city.
The protesters demanded the provincial government be dismissed and that the army take over responsibility for the city.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said in a televised address shortly early on January 13 that the governor has been made head of Baluchistan province, replacing the chief minister. Also, paramilitary forces will receive police powers and launch an operation against militants behind the billiards hall attack.
The prime minister flew to Quetta on January 12 after other efforts to pacify the protesters failed. Human rights organizations have accused the Pakistani government of not doing enough to protect Shiites targeted by radical Sunni Muslims who believe they are heretics.
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