Gilgit-Baltistan: Shia Clerics Call off Strike Conditionally

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Gilgit (ET): A call for a strike on Thursday by Shia clerics to protest against the delay in the arrest of the perpetrators of the Kohistan bus massacre was postponed after interior minister Rehman Malik assured them he would visit Gilgit as soon as the weather clears.

According to sources, Rehman Malik spoke to members of Anjuman-e-Imamia this morning on telephone and assured them that he would reach Gilgit on Friday. He requested them to call off the protests till his arrival. Anjuman-e-Imamia postponed the strike till Friday following the assurance, but they warned that they would go ahead if the government failed to fulfil its commitments.

Sectarian strife reached its peak in Gilgit following the Kohistan massacre after Shia clerics threatened to launch protest strikes across Gilgit-Baltistan if the culprits were not arrested by Thursday.

In an attempt to extend the deadline, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan, Mehdi Shah, met with clerics of Anjuman-e-Imamia in Gilgit and Nagar and assured them that the perpetrators would soon be brought to book. However, the clerics told the chief minister they would postpone the protests only if the interior minister were to visit them.

Lawyers’ protest

Lawyers on Thursday took out a rally from court premises in Konodas to demand that the government step down for failing to protect the lives of its people and arrest the killers who massacred 16 passengers in Kohistan.

You have failed to protect the people and you have no right to rule over them, chanted the lawyers who later assembled in Ittehad Chowk.

They condemned the killings and demanded exemplary punishment for those involved in sectarian strife and spark enmities based on religious differences.

Ehsan Ali, president Gilgit bar association said that since the government has failed to deliver, the army should come forward and maintain law and order in Gilgit. He said that the civilian government was afraid of taking action against those bent on ruining the peace of the city. The lawyers cleared the road and dispersed peacefully after the protest.

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