September 22, 2014

Provincial minister sacked over deadly Quetta blasts

By Meena Haseeb - Mon Jan 14 2013, 9:22 am

Balochistan provincial minister sackedPakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday sacked the provincial government in Baluchistan after meeting Shiite Muslim protesters demanding protection after a massive bomb attack.

Ashraf assured the leaders of the Hazara Shia community that under governor rule the chief executive of the province could summon the army anytime to help the administration.

Over the past three days, thousands of Shiites have blocked a main road in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta with dozens of coffins of relatives killed in the twin bombing of a billiards hall in the city Thursday. They demanded the provincial government be dismissed and that the army take over responsibility for the city.

However, Ashraf said he wouldn’t implement military rule in the city but would leave it up to the governor to ask for more help — if needed — from paramilitary forces to try to quell the violence.

It was unclear when the sit-in would end, as leaders of the protest said they will take a wait-and-see approach to the change in government.

The billiards hall attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian militant group allied with al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban.

Security concerns have grown among Pakistan’s Shia minority, which makes up about 20% of the country’s predominantly Sunni population.

The provincial government has been widely critcised in Baluchistan for being unable to control not just sectarian violence, but other attacks linked to a nearly nine-year separatist insurgency and to Islamist militants.

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