PM Nawaz Sharif assures full support to Shia Hazara
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday threw a lifeline to the besieged residents of Hazara Town by asking all intelligence outfits in the country to pool their resources and protect the neighbourhood from multiple gun and bomb attacks.
The prime minister has directed all intelligence agencies – including Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) – to treat the security of Hazara Town as a ‘test case’.
Hazara Town, a Shia neighbourhood of Quetta, has been plagued by a wave of bomb and suicide attacks since January this year. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian militant group outlawed by the government in August 2001, has claimed credit for all these attacks.
The prime minister said that the heads of intelligence agencies have promised that they would help the Balochistan government restore durable peace and tranquility in Quetta. He was speaking to journalists after a high-level meeting in Quetta on Tuesday.
Premier Nawaz was visiting Quetta two days after a deadly suicide attack killed 30 people in Hazara Town. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, ISI chief Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam, IB’s director general and other senior officials also accompanied him.
Describing Quetta as a relatively small city, the premier said it should not be too difficult to secure the few marketplaces and residential neighbourhoods of the city. He added that acts of terrorism against innocent people would not be tolerated.
Nawaz said that he has directed the security forces and intelligence agencies to help the provincial administration eliminate terrorism and targeted killings, and restore normalcy in the province. He praised the police and paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel for rendering sacrifices in the fight against terrorists and outlaws.
He assured the administration of Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch of complete support of the federal government. He said the high-level meeting reviewed the security situation and decided to strengthen the police force to combat terrorism and targeted killings. “The Balochistan government will soon get the services of excellent police officers to deal with the menace,” he added.
Baloch nationalist parties and civil society groups blame security forces over the enforced disappearances of political workers and ultranationalists. They claim that hundreds of such ‘missing persons’ are in the custody of security agencies.
The prime minister vowed that the people responsible for missing persons would be made accountable. He added that his government was determined to bring a marked improvement in administration to make it more responsive to the needs of society.
About the coalition government in Balochistan, Nawaz said that the Dr Abdul Malik Baloch’s election as chief minister has sent out a positive message to the people of Balochistan. “Now, it’s the duty of the new provincial government to show some positive results,” he added.
The prime minister disclosed that upon his return from a trip to China, he would convene a crucial meeting to find out ways to deal with the security situation in the country. He added that leaders of all political parties would be invited to the conference.
The premier said the federal government would help all provincial administrations, including in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Nawaz Sharif also offered sympathies to the Hazara community over the loss of innocent lives in the recent suicide attack in Hazara Town.
In a meeting with the Hazara community delegation at Governor House, he assured that the government was adopting concrete measures for their protection along with other citizens of Balochistan.
“The government is determined to maintain peace and eliminate terrorism from the country,” he said, adding that elements opposed to peace would not be spared as it was the responsibility of the government to ensure security of its citizens.
“We are fully cognisant of suffering of the Hazara community,” he said and stressed that all out efforts would be made to maintain peace in the province.
The delegation of Shia Scholars and Hazara Shia Community eleders, led by Majlis-e-Wehdatul Muslimeen (MWM) MPA Muhammad Raza, briefed the prime minister about the issues being faced by the Hazara community in Balochistan.
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