ucanews.com reporter, QuettaUpdated: May 02, 2018 05:45 AM GMT
Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa meets a delegation of Hazara women in Quetta on May 1 and persuades them to end their hunger strike. (Photo by ISPR)
A minority Muslim group in southwest Pakistan called off their four-day hunger strike over targeted killings after meeting the country's army chief.
Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa flew to Quetta and met with representatives of the Shia Hazara protesters late on May 1.
Hazaras went on hunger strike outside Quetta Press Club and Balochistan Legislative Assembly to protest what is being described as "Hazara genocide" and demanded that the army chief personally visit them and promise security.
At least eight Hazaras and 15 Christians have been killed in Balochistan's provincial capital in a fresh spate of violence targeting minorities in recent weeks. The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Christians.
"While nothing can compensate for the loss of dear ones, those who have targeted them shall suffer twice as much," Gen. Bajwa told protest leaders, according to ISPR, the media wing of Pakistan's army.
"The state is responsible for the security of its citizens and all state institutions are concerned. Each and every casualty, including from the Hazara community, is of concern to us, and our brave security forces are performing their best and willingly offering monumental sacrifices to bring lasting peace to the country.
"During 2018 alone, so far 37 security forces personnel have lost their lives in Quetta. Through a unified national effort, we have turned the tide of terrorism, but a lot is still being done to reverse the gains by exploiting various fault lines."
Raja Nasir Abbasi, a Shia cleric, earlier wrote a letter to the army chief and called for clear action over the killings of Hazaras.
He said terrorists had accelerated their activities and their "free movement is a cause of anxiety."
Opposition leader Imran Khan also condemned attacks on the small community.
"I strongly condemn the targeted killings of the peaceful Hazara community. It is shameful for our nation that we cannot protect this small community of our citizens," the cricketer-turned-politician tweeted.