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February 21, 2015

In show of solidarity, public protectsi mambargah during prayers


February 21, 2015

Civil society activists offered some relief to the beleaguered Shia community, which has faced a string of bombings in recent weeks, as they formed a human chain outside an imambargah in Karachi on Friday.
Within five weeks, the Muslim minority sect has lived through four suicide attacks at its mosques across the country with two of them during Friday prayers. With much of its time spent mourning its dead, the community’s sense of protection is at its lowest.
In the wake of the surge in attacks, the National Students Federation Pakistan (NSF) and Pakistan Youth Alliance (PYA) rallied people from all religious backgrounds to form a security perimeter outside the Shah-e-Najaf Imambargah on Martin Road during the Friday congregation.
The civilian guards gathered around the mosque and stood there till the prayer ended. The protesters also carried placards and shouted slogans against “inept” authorities.
PYA co-founder Ali Abbas Zaidi while speaking to The News said that Shia-Sunni unity was the basis of Pakistan and sans the feeling of unity there was no point of existence of the country. “In my 30 years, this is the first time I would accept that things have gotten completely out of the state’s control.”
He also called for a plausible explanation of banned religious organisations carrying out their activities publicly and that too under the protection of law enforcement agencies.
NSF organiser Khurram Ali said people had started realising that there was not much left to say in favour of the authorities as the fourth blast which occurred at an imambargah in Islamabad took place when a sit-in was being staged by the victims of the Shikarpur blast in Karachi. “The state has failed miserably in protecting the masses and it will not be able to do much unless structural changes are made within it or else it won’t take long for a Tunisian revolution in the country.”
Also among the protesters was Pakistan Hindu Council

President Dr Jaipal Chhabria. He said an attack at any place of worship was an attack on humanity. He believed that religious extremists had been given a free hand by the state.
Speaking of Pakistan’s first law minister Jugandarnath Mandal, who was a Hindu, Chhabria said the nation’s salvation laid in being taught correct history. “Our children should know that people from various religious backgrounds had an equal part in creating Pakistan.”
Kausar Ali and Mehreen, the father and daughter duo who survived the Mastung blast also stood in solidarity with the protesters. Ali claimed the state was powerful enough to deal with extremist elements with an iron hand. “But unfortunately the funds from America are far more important than our lives.”
Appreciating the protesters’ initiative, Shabbir Ali also joined the protesters after offering his prayers inside the imambargah. He was of the opinion that the country was paying the price of its foreign policy set decades ago. “A policy which was meant to backfire,” he said.
The organisers plan to stage similar protest-cum-vigilance outside churches, temples as well as other places of worship of minorities.

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