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SC orders long-term strategy to protect Shias in Balochistan

27 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered authorities on Tuesday to develop a long-term strategy to protect Shias after bomb attacks killed nearly 200 of them in Balochistan.

Expressing apprehension over the law enforcement agencies' alleged arrest of innocent Sunni citizens over the killing of Hazaras, the representative of the Hazara community warned in the Supreme Court that it could spark sectarianism in the country. During the hearing of the suo motu case regarding the massacre of Hazara people, PPP MNA Nasir Shah opposed the arrest of Sunni people after February 16 attack and said that the Balochistan government was not serious in restoring peace in Quetta.

He also suggested that a high-level security board comprising heads of all the law enforcement agencies should be formed to handle the present wave of terrorism in Balochistan. Meanwhile, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry rejected the Balochistan government's report over the incident and observed that so for the law enforcement agencies had failed to identify the root causes of the attacks on the Hazara community's members.

The court sought a comprehensive report from the chief secretary, home secretary, inspector general of police (IGP) and FC IG on efforts for restoring peace in Quetta. It also directed that no community should be isolated from others so that the business sector of the province is not affected. "We are of the opinion that measures taken by the provincial authorities are insufficient and it should take effective measures for ensuring the arrest of the culprits involved in the incidents that took lives of the innocent people," the court ruled in its order.

It directed that the victims of bomb blasts as well people injured in these incidents must be compensated. During the hearing, Balochistan Additional Advocate General Azam Khattak submitted a report regarding the steps so for taken by the authorities and told the court that they have tightened security at all the exit posts of the city besides checking the vehicles bringing in fertiliser to the province. He further told the court that the provincial authorities had constituted a committee which will prepare lists of the heirs of the victims for compensation.

"You should have compensated the heirs of the victims of bomb blasts earlier," the chief justice said to the official, adding that it is the responsibility of the state to protect the citizens as enshrined in Article 9 of the constitution. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till March 6.

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