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Pakistan: Religious persecution: Hundreds protest Shi'a killings


PESHAWAR, (The Express Tribune):

The Imamia Coordination Council (ICC) has asked the government to constitute an independent anti-terrorism cell headed by the Peshawar corps commander to take necessary action against terrorist networks.

The declaration was passed in a protest on Friday against sectarian killings. It was endorsed by leaders of Shia representative organisations.

The ICC rally started from Kucha Risaldar, passed through Qissa Khwani, and then to Khyber Bazaar where it took the shape of a public gathering. Participants carried pictures of victims of target killings and placards inscribed with inter-religious harmony slogans, condemning sectarian attacks in the country.

Hundreds of men, women and children from Peshawar took part. The protest aimed to draw the authorities’ attention to the recent spike in killings in the city.

According to the Millat-e-Jafria, 90 people belonging to Shia families have been killed over a fortnight. Since January, two prominent doctors and a lawyer have been assassinated in Peshawar, while Additional Sessions Judge Ihtisham Ali survived a targeted attack, which injured him severely.

“We ask the government and law enforcement agencies to protect our elders, children and women from being targeted and demand those involved in such heinous crimes be brought to justice,” said Muzafar Ali Akhunzada, a member of the Imamia Jirga at the rally.

A meeting of representative Shia organisations will be called in the city soon, Akhunzada told The Express Tribune. At this meeting, a collective decision will be taken on the future course of action in light of escalated violence.

Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen’s Maulana Irshad Khalili, former senator Maulana Syed Muhammad Jawad and Maulana Nazir Hussain also spoke on the occasion. They asked security agencies to plug the flow of funds from foreign states to militant groups which instigate sectarian violence.

They demanded compensation for the families of all civilians killed in terrorist incidents – akin to the compensation for families of slain armed forces and police personnel.

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