Human rights organizations are appealing for the federal government to step in and end the targeted killings of Shi’ite Muslims in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. About 100 protesters gathered yesterday in Lahore to condemn the murders of 29 members of the Hazara community in Quetta over the last week. The wave of sectarian violence follows a deadly clash between protesters from a radical Sunni organization and Shi’tes which resulted in at least 10 Shi’ite deaths in the north of Balochistan earlier this month. The protest on Lahore was called by the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS). “The ongoing violence is a disturbing example of government failure. Its causes can be traced back to the rise in religious extremism that has been accelerated by state policies towards Islamization which have seen religious and sectarian minorities become second class citizens,” the IPSS said in a statement. “State patronage of militant groups has left minorities vulnerable to violence and persecution. It is with urgent need that the government treats all citizens as equals without any discrimination and stop supporting extremist elements in society,” it concluded. Meanwhile, posters with the images of mutilated Shi’ites have been put up around Lahore including near the Punjab assembly building. Shi’ite clerics have also staged a sit in at the Punjab governor’s house. Samson Salamat, director of the Centre for Human Rights Education, condemned the federal government for its inaction. “Failure to respond is encouraging those involved in promoting violence. Such elements are openly collecting funds in the streets, holding big rallies and enjoying impunity”, he said.
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