CAIR condemns anti-Christian violence in Pakistan
By: Special Correspondent | March 14, 2013
WASHINGTON - Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organisation, Tuesday condemned anti-Christian violence in Pakistan. In a statement, CAIR said: "Violence and vandalism have no place in Islamic behaviour. We condemn recent violence targeting the Christians. If we wish to honour the Prophet Muhammad PBUH) we should follow his example of forgiveness and not retaliating to alleged insults.”
Pakistan Christians rally over Lahore attacks
Protests in Karachi after mobs ransack and torch homes in Christian area of Lahore over alleged insult against prophet.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2013 13:04
Several protests have been held in cities across Pakistan, including Karachi and Multan, hours after mobs ransacked a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore and torched dozens of homes.
Mobs on Saturday caused widespread damage in the eastern Pakistani city after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, according to a police officer.
The group of Christians in Karachi said the Punjab government should have given the Christian community more protection in Lahore following the allegations of blasphemy.
"It's very very sad and that's why I want to appeal to the government; please look into the matter and see also that the people who are affected, their properties are burnt," Father Peter John, from the Saint Patrick Church in Karachi, said.
"They should also get some sort of compensation."
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty, but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of the prophet.
On Friday night, a large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the home of the Christian man in Lahore accused of insulting the prophet, and police took the man into custody to try to pacify the crowd.
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.
Police said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze.
The police spokesperson said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with Christians making up around two percent of the population.
Pakistan's Shias agree to bury their dead
Funeral for 89 killed in latest blast to begin on Wednesday, but many protesters vow to continue appeal for more action.
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 22:57
Hazara Shia Muslims in the Pakistani province of Balochistan have agreed to bury the dead from a bombing that killed 89 people, after the government promised to take action against the perpetrators of the weekend attack.
Shia leaders announced late on Tuesday that the funeral will begin at 9:00am local time (04:00GMT) on Wednesday.
They urged people to end the protests, but the appeal was been met with resistance.
The leaders had agreed to call off the sit-ins earlier but protesters had refused to move until it was agreed that the army would start targeted operations against those responsible for the spate of killings.
Saturday's attack was the second bomb targeting the Shia Hazara minority in five weeks in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, which has seen more than 200 deaths, mostly Shias, in the last one month.
People rallied across the country in solidarity with the Hazara community with major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad witnessing huge protests against the rising sectarian violence.
Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Quetta, said the Hazara community is "angry and defiant" and is demanding the Pakistani military to come to the provincial capital, and go after the mastermind of the attacks.
'More than 100 arrested'
Earlier in the day, the Pakistan information minister said about 170 people had been arrested by the paramilitary Frontier Corps in an ongoing operation to catch the perpetrators.
Speaking in Quetta, Qamar Zaman Kaira said the latest action was expected to make a big difference for security in the region.
Officials said that during the operation they had killed four men in connection with the latest attack.
Police said they had arrested a former provincial minister in connection with the recent deadly attacks in the province.
Rehman Malik, the interior minister, said the government had also replaced the provincial police chief and offered to heavily fortify the Hazara Shia enclave in Quetta.
Tuesday's operation to catch those behind the attacks was carried out on the outskirts of Quetta, where members of the ethnic Hazara minority have been living under siege.
Akbar Hussain Durrani, the home secretary of Balochistan province, and Colonel Maqbool Ahmed, from the Frontier Corps, said the killings and arrests took place during what they called an "ongoing operation".
"Those who were killed were high-profile targeted killers," Durrani said.
"They were involved in the killing of a Shia judge and senior police officers,"
One of the masterminds of Saturday's bombing in the Quetta suburb of Hazara Town was among those in custody, Durrani added.
Intelligence and paramilitary officers also confiscated bomb-making material, weapons, suicide vests and ammunition during the operation, officials said.
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Islamabad, said: "The coming days are going to be important.
"Real security is what the Shia community is demanding. So far, they've got this targeted operation, but will that be enough?"
A similar protest after 95 people were killed by suicide bombers at a Hazara snooker hall in Quetta on January 10 only ended after four days when Islamabad sacked the provincial government and imposed rule by the governor.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned armed group, claimed both the attacks in Quetta, a small town where the military and intelligence agencies have a heavy presence.
Quetta: Shia Hazaras refuse to bury Pakistan bomb dead
18 February 2013 Last updated at 08:28
Pakistani city mourns as death toll climbs to 81
Quetta, February 17, 2013
The death toll from a devastating bomb attack on Shiite Muslims in southwest Pakistan rose to 81 Sunday, as the community threatened protests if swift action was not taken against the killers. The bomb containing nearly a tonne of explosives, hidden in a water tanker, tore through crowded market in Hazara town, a Shiite-dominated area on the edge of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, early on Saturday evening.
The death toll from the blast, which demolished a nearby two-storey building, rose to 81 overnight, senior police official Wazir Khan Nasir told AFP, while 178 people were wounded.
Baluchistan has increasingly become a flashpoint for the surging sectarian violence between Pakistan's majority Sunni Muslims and Shiites, who account for around a fifth of the country's 180 million people.
Saturday's attack takes the death toll in sectarian attacks in Pakistan this year to almost 200, compared with more than 400 in the whole of 2012 -- a year which Human Rights Watch described as the deadliest on record for the country's Shiites.
It was the second major attack on Shiites in Quetta this year, after a double suicide bombing on a snooker club in the city on January 10 killed at least 92 people, the deadliest ever attack on the community in Pakistan.
Protests in the wake of the snooker hall attack prompted Islamabad to sack the provincial government and suspend its legislature and Shiite leaders said there would be more demonstrations if the culprits behind the market bombing were not caught.
Azizullah Hazara, chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, Sunday gave a 48-hour deadline to the provincial government to launch targeted operations against the killers or they would launch protests.
Provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said the dead and injured included women and children, and confirmed all the people trapped under rubble at the site of the collapsed building had been removed.
Durrani said that after clearance from doctors some 25-30 seriously wounded people would be airlifted to Karachi.
The chairman of the Shia Conference, Daud Agha, put the death toll at 83 and 194 wounded.
"Today a special mourning ceremony for the martyrs of last month's attack was already planned. We will announce the future course of action and time for burials after that in the afternoon," Agha told AFP.
The banned militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack -- as it did for the snooker hall bombing and a February 1 attack on a Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan that killed 24.
There is anger and frustration among Shiites at the apparent inability or unwillingness of the authorities to tackle LeJ. Activists say the failure of the judiciary to prosecute sectarian killers allows them to operate with impunity.
Sayed Qamar Haider Zaidi, a spokesman for Shiite groups in the area, condemned the Pakistani government for not providing protection to the community and announced three days of mourning and protest over the attack.
A large number of people gathered outside shops destroyed in the bombing and shopkeepers sifted through the debris to salvage any usable items on Sunday, an AFP photographer at the scene said, adding that people wept as they found human flesh and pieces of limbs.
Pakistan's national flag was flying at half mast after the provincial government declared a day of mourning over the killings and markets were closed.
Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, also suffers Islamist militancy and a regional insurgency which began in 2004, with rebels demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.
Balochistan on edge after sectarian killings
Security remains tenuous in Pakistan province despite recent attacks on Shia Muslims.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2013 13:01
Big picture: Pakistani women, by Geoff Brokate and Kaye Martindale
Each week, the Guardian Weekend magazine's editorial team choose a picture, or set of pictures, that particularly tickle their fancy. This week, their choice is Pakistani women, by Geoff Brokate and Kaye Martindale
The Guardian, Friday 25 January 2013 16.30 GMT