3,500 Pakistani Shiites flooded the streets of a southwestern city for a second day on Saturday, this time with a new protest technique: blocking the roads with around 50 coffins of relatives killed in recent explosions. The unconventional protest also marks a break with Islamic custom, which dictates that the dead be buried as soon as possible. In refusing to bury their dead, the protestors hope to make a statement to the government about its lack of protection following the twin bombings of a billiards hall on Thursday that left 86 dead. “My son went to a billiards hall to play, but now I am sitting with his body here,” said Begum Dilawar Shah. “I want to know what was the fault of my son and who killed him and why?”
The dead included police, rescuers and journalists who rushed there in response to the first attack on the billiards hall, which was located in a predominantly Shiite area.
Mohsina Hissaini, who was sobbing near the coffins, said one of her cousins was among those who responded to the first attack.
“Every month, our people are killed in gun attacks or with bombs,” she said. “We need security.”
On Friday, Shiites laid about 50 of their dead on the street, saying they would not bury them until the government improved security. Islamic custom dictates that the dead be buried as soon possible.
Hazara said their protest would continue until their demands were accepted.
In a move aimed at accepting the Shiite demands for security, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ordered authorities on Saturday to give policing powers to paramilitary forces in Quetta to improve law and order.
Many of the attacks against the Shiites in Pakistan are carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban.