Demand for deployment of troops in Quetta made at Washington sit-in

Monday, January 14th, 2013 6:30:22 by

WASHINGTON, Jan 13: Hundreds of people gathered outside the Pakistan Embassy on Sunday, demanding that Quetta be handed over to the army.

Angered by what they described as “a premeditated genocide of Shia Muslims” in Pakistan, the protesters said the government should accept its failure in maintaining security and do whatever was needed to protect the innocent victims of religious violence.

“We are not against democracy but life comes first,” said one protester who only gave his last name, Khan. “Democracy is for the living, not for dead.”

At least half the protesters were women who also brought their children with them. “We are Pakistan, no more Taliban,” chanted the children as more people continued to join the protest.

Although their main demand — that Quetta should be handed over to the army — was political in nature, the protest was organised by the Mohammadia Centre, a non-profit group providing religious and charitable services to the Pakistani community in Virginia, Maryland and Washington.

Many of the participants were PPP activists who appeared to have pushed aside their political affiliations, at least for now, for a more basic need: “the right to live” as one of the banners proclaimed.

“Shia killing no more, we want action now, catch the culprits, the army should take over Quetta,” they chanted as they staged a sit-in outside the Pakistan Embassy, braving freezing cold and a constant drizzle.

Many Sunnis also participated in the sit-in.

At an earlier gathering, participants expressed their anger at an unprecedented increase in attacks on religious minorities across Pakistan, including Christians and Ahmadis.

“We need to learn to live with each other. We also need to realise that there never is an ultimate victory in a religious dispute,” said J. Shirazi, whose nephew was recently gunned down in Karachi and the killers shamelessly claimed their allegiance to Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

“More than a 100 killed in a single day! If this is not a wake-up call, what will be?” asked Mr Shirazi. “Two blasts inside Pakistan kill more than a 100. Four soldiers die in India-Pakistan clashes on the Line of Control, two from each side,” said another participant Mohammed Khalid. “Does the Pakistan army chief have a point when he says that internal threats to Pakistan are greater than any external threat?”

“How long has this been going on, really?” asked Najma Siddiqi, a Washington resident. “It has now become a matter of numbers of dead, 10, 20, 50 or more. We are the greatest threat to ourselves, nothing to do with internal or external. We accept all kinds of rotten individuals, clans, institutions, systems.”

She added: “We protect and provide the pasture/fodder for these so-called leaders and protectors to graze/feed on. And we let them use one cover or another to justify the loot and the violence: national, ethnic, religious, institution, political.”

Javed Rafat Siddique, from Houston, Texas, suggested that Pakistan “needs a complete change, not just the faces, but also the way we elect our representatives. The present system is only geared to bring the same kind of landed aristocracy who is robbing and ruling for the past 60 years.”

Agha Adeel, from a Washington suburb, claimed that the army chief was fast becoming unpopular for not doing anything to stop this carnage.

“The media has to do more to create more awareness,” said Mohsin Bashir Awan, another Washington area participant.

“What goes around comes around,” said Zamarey Faqiri, an Afghan from London.
“Yaa Allah, Pakistan par raham farmaa (O God, have mercy on Pakistan),” said Mahmood Raza Tariq, a Virginia resident.

“Amen,” said all.

Quetta News Sources

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