Pakistan: Shi’ites stage die-in —for real

Shi'ites in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province, spent three nights in freezing cold with the bodies of their slain loved ones at one of the city's main intersections—in defiance of their own traditions of speedy burial—to demand action in the face of a wave of terror taregting their community. The bodies were those of 83 people killed last week in coordinated bomb attacks on a Shi'ite neighborhood—the latest in a wave of such attacks across Pakistan. The bodies were finally buried Jan. 14 under heavy security, as mourners chanted slogans against the security forces for their failure to protect them.

The agreement to end the public protest came after Shi'ite leaders—mostly of the Hazara ethnicity—met with Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. A leader of the Hazara community's Qaumi Yakjehti Council told Pakistan's Dawn News that since the government had agreed to talks, the council had decided to end the sit-in. Leaders of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) also ended their public hunger strike which they had been holding in front of the office of the Inspector General of the Balochistan police force.

The Hazara Shi'ites have been repeatedly targeted by the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, with the organization also claiming last week's deadly blasts in Quetta. Although ostensibly banned, it seemingly operates with impunity, pointing to some degree of collusion with the state security services. (DawnGlobal Post, Jan. 14)