Tuesday 3 April 2012

Crisis deepens in Pakistan's northern areas

ASWJ rally in Gilgit today
Sad to say that Gilgit-Baltistan is becoming engulfed in sectarian violence following the bloody massacre of 18 Shiites in February (see my report on that event here).
Today another 10 people were killed in two incidents. Five died in Gilgit when hand grenades were thrown at a rally of the violently anti-Shia Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaat organisation, who were protesting at the arrest of one of their leaders, Attaullah Saqib. He is known to be the leader of the Gilgit branch of Sipah-e-Sabah, a viciously sectarian organisation. Why they were allowed to hold a rally in a predominantly Shia area at a time of heightened tension is anyone's guess.
A few hours later, in a repeat of the original massacre that ignited the troubles in the northern areas, five people were taken off buses in Chilat and shot dead by the side of the road. Four vehicles were set on fire. In that original incident in February 18 men were taken from buses travelling along the Karakorum Highway in Kohistan by men wearing army uniform and shot at the side of the road.
All government, non-government and education institutions have been closed for an indefinite period and the Army has been deployed onto the streets to enforce a curfew. What an entirely avoidable tragedy.

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