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Issue 285, Friday 25 January 2013 - 13 Rabi' al-Awwal 1434
British Muslims condemn sectarian violence in Pakistan
By Aishah Ali
Muslims offering funeral prayers for the victims of sectarian violence
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League (WABIL) have condemned the sectarian violence in the Pakistan city of Quetta. Twin bomb attacks killed over a hundred Shi’a Muslims and more than two hundred were reported injured on January 10. After a three day sit-in with the victims’ bodies in bitter temperatures, demanding security from the Government, the relatives and the local community led mass funerals on January 13.
Concerns have mounted after Pakistan’s Shi’a minority have been targeted in the region, and the latest violence has led to the dismissal of the Chief Minister of the south-western Baluchistan province by the country’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. He had visited Quetta and held talks with the protesters who demanded the replacement of the Minister and wanted the Government to implement military rule in their region to protect them from further violence.
Secretary General of MCB, Farooq Murad, said: “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this horrific sectarian violence, where Muslims are pitted against Muslim.”
Condemning the killings in “strongest terms”, Secretary General of WABIL, Mohammad al-Musawi, said, “The ongoing genocide against Shi’a Muslims in Pakistan has reached unbearable levels, with the continued failure of Pakistani Government to fulfil its basic duty to protect its citizens, and the unexplained silence of Western governments including the British Government, the continuous funding and weapons from some oil-rich countries to the terrorist groups.”
The Government’s decision came as pressure was mounting from the public elsewhere in the country. A Pakistani religious leader, Muhammad Tahir Qadri, called for “electoral reforms”, and led tens of thousands on an anti-corruption protest from the city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad. Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of the population, marched alongside the Shi’a Muslims in solidarity through 200 miles, sharing a common stance to end violence and corruption in their country. “We want democracy through guaranteed protection of human rights, through empowerment of the people; through the principles of accountability,” Qadri said to the assembled crowd behind a bullet proof glass, near the Pakistani Parliament.
A separate incident occurred a day earlier in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, where unidentified gunmen opened fire killing at least 11 people. Violence has gripped this city with daily reports of gun attacks and threats, making it difficult for the locals to go out to work, schools and even buying basic groceries.
Criticising the Government Qadri further said, “No development has been made for the social sector, no insurance for health, no education, no human rights, and no economic growth. No electricity, no gas, no health, no house, no food to eat, hence, the people have been deprived of basic necessities.”
“The long march has ended, this is the start of a revolution,” he added.
Voices from key figures and the public have grown louder in recent years in opposition to the corruption in Pakistan’s political establishment. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former cricket player, Imran Khan, called for the President Aif Zardari to step down immediately. “Free and fair elections cannot take place till Zardari is here. He is the reason for Pakistan’s destruction,” he said on January 15. “They are usurping money through corruption and are using that money to buy the elections.”
Speaking about the violence in Pakistan and in some other Muslim majority countries, Murad said, “We are sadly witnessing this on-going erosion of Islam values of the dignity of human life and Muslim unity. At this time of deep tragedies abroad, let us increase our efforts to promote dialogue and co-operation amongst all communities.”
“Moreover, with so many British Muslims with ties to Pakistan, we call on Pakistan’s leaders, at all levels, to come together and put an end to the cycle of violence gripping that nation,” he added.
As we go to print, Supreme Court issued arrest warrant for Prime Minister Ashraf on allegations of corruption.
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