Candlelight vigil for victims of Quetta blasts | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Candlelight vigil for victims of Quetta blasts

By: Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD: Human rights activists held candlelight vigil on Friday for the victims of Quetta blasts amid moving scenes. Some women activists were literally crying as they also lost their young colleague, Irfan Khudi Ali, during blasts in Quetta on Thursday, which mowed down around 110 children, men and women.

Irfan Khudi Ali, 33, was working for peace and interfaith harmony. He had gone to their hometown to organise a peace conference there. In 2012, he was selected as a representative of UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group and was the only male member of the 15-member group.

Vigil was organised by different non-governmental organisations including Insani Huqooq Ittehad, Pakistan Reproductive Health Network and WAF – Islamabad Chapter. Talking to Dawn, rights activist Tahira Abdulla said although the victims were Shias and belonged to Hazara community, they were Pakistanis and a Pakistani should not be killed.

Criticising the government’s apathy, another activist, Farzana Bari, said the government had turned a blind eye to the murders taking place almost every day.

“We claim that our economy is growing and we are nuclear power but still we cannot stop ethnic violence. It is only because government is not willing to stop killings. Different sects have been living in this region since hundreds of years but now some elements have been creating differences between them,” she said.

Civil society activist, Dr Ambreen Ahmed said that Irfan Khudi Ali was killed because he belonged to Hazara community. No one should be killed because of religion, she said.

Shahzad Ahmed of ‘Friends of Hazara’ said that Irfan Ali was working against gender discrimination and for the rights of the people. He was based in Islamabad and went to Quetta to hold a peace conference but was killed.

Sajjad Hussain, a representative of Hazara Community, said that almost every day Hazaras were being murdered in Balochistan but politicians did not do anything practical to stop their killings. “We have to admit that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) was behind the killing of Hazaras and it had the support of ISI,” he said.

He claimed that the LEJ distributed letters in hospitals of Quetta on Friday, instructing the doctors not to treat Hazaras. They demanded the government to arrest those who claimed the responsibility of the blasts and bring them to justice and take concrete steps to stop cleansing of Shia and Hazara community.

Meanwhile, National Press Club and Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) organised a protest outside the press club to condemn the Quetta blasts in which Samaa TV’s senior cameraman Imran Sheikh and senior reporter Saifur Rehman were killed.

Veteran journalists Pervaiz Shaukat, Mazhar Abbas, Farooq Faisal Khan, Tahir Rathore, Afzel Butt, Shaheryar Khan and others participated in the protest. Journalist community condemned the incident and demanded that accused should be arrested. Government should take concrete measures to stop such incidents in future, they said.

President, National Press Club, Farooq Faisal Khan while talking to Dawn said that it was a terrible incident. He said that there should be proper training for the journalist before sending them to conflict zones.

President PFUJ Pervaiz Shaukat said the provincial government had no interest in resolving the issue of terrorism in Balochistan. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Khan Raisani spends most of his time in Islamabad, he said.

“So far 95 journalists have been murdered but their assassins have not been arrested,” he said.


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