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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Govt under fire: Outrage over Hazara killings in the National Assembly By Zia Khan

Published: October 5, 2011
ANP lawmaker calls on the interior minister, Balochistan chief minister to resign.
ISLAMABAD:
Already eliciting scathing criticism for its inability to solve the energy crisis, the government faced another line of attack on Tuesday as members of the National Assembly, including some from the ruling alliance, demanded the resignations of cabinet members and other senior officials for their failure to curb sectarian killings in Balochistan.
At least 14 people of the Hazara community – an ethnic minority that follows Shia Islam – were gunned down outside Quetta early on Tuesday morning in the second such incident within a fortnight.
Anger over the killings dominated proceedings of the lower house of Parliament, even overshadowing what was expected to be another day of criticism of the government over its handling of the energy crisis and the floods in Sindh.
Only two speeches were made on the floor of the assembly about the energy crisis, which were then followed by a walkout by members of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
The onslaught against the government was led by one of its own – Nasir Ali Shah, of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, himself an ethnic Hazara representing Quetta. He said that the brutal murder of over a dozen men from the community reflected a complete collapse of the government’s law enforcing machinery in the heart of the province.
Shah called for the resignations of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and went on to call for governor’s rule in the province.
“Hazara people are being targeted just because of their religious beliefs. Where is the government, where are the agencies? Aren’t they Pakistanis?” Shah asked before he walked out of the house.
Nasir’s demand was vehemently backed by Pakistan Muslim League-Q’s Riaz Hussain Pirzada who went a step even further and asked the federal government and those of Balochistan and Sindh to resign for their failure to control killings.
“Resign if you can’t do better,” Pirzada advised the government in what appeared to be an indication of changes that might emerge in Pakistan’s politics in weeks to come.
Bushra Gohar of the Awami National Party (ANP) said somebody had to take responsibility for failing to protect minorities and Raisani and Malik should have enough moral courage to resign. PPP member Nadeem Afzal Gondal sought an explanation from both Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Rehman Malik over the killings of Shias.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.

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