COAS reaches Quetta, talks with Hazara elite succeed as community decides to end the sit-in

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Quetta on Tuesday, days after two people belonging to the Hazara community were shot dead in the provincial capital. Soon after reaching Quetta, the COAS Bajwa entered into talks with the Hazara community elite who were earlier insisting that the Army Chief may visit them and listen to their grievances.

The talks were ultimately successful as a result of which the Hazara community elite have decided to end their sit-in. The details of the agreement to this effect, if any, was still awaited.

The Army Chief was assisted in talks by Federal Interior Minister Iqbal Ashan, Chief Minister Abdul Qudus Bizenjo, Provincial Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugi, Commander Southern Command Gen. Asim Salim Bajwa, and others.

Earlier, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor in a statement had said: “COAS arrived at Quetta for an update on security situation and meeting with notables of Hazara Community.”

Earlier today, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal during his visit to the sit-in staged at Zarghoon Road near Balochistan Assembly assured the community of security, and said that law enforcement agencies had been directed to apprehend the culprits behind the recent attacks.

During the visit, Iqbal also reviewed the security situation with Inspector-General Balochistan Moazzam Jah Ansari and Inspector-General Frontier Corps Major General Nadeem Anjum and met with the families of martyred policemen.

The Hazara community members staged demonstrations at three separate locations of the city.

They are demanding protection from law enforcement agencies and have requested the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to visit Quetta.

Meanwhile, Balochistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on Tuesday announced the arrest of a key suspected militant involved in a series of targeted killings in the city.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) CTD Aitzaz Goraya, along with the DIG Frontier Corps (FC), announced that Dr Abdur Raheem Mohammad Shahi, a lead commander of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), was arrested during an operation conducted yesterday.

DIG Goraya in his statement to the media said, “The man is suspected of having a hand in the suicide bombings and numerous target killings that took place in Hazara Town, Bolan Medical Complex, and the [provincial] IG’s office.”

A number of weapons were also recovered from the arrested terrorist, he said, adding that the man had a Rs2 million bounty on his head. The CTD official said that efforts are under way and more arrests will be made soon.

According to DIG Goraya, the key suspect’s group members Waliullah, Khalid and Aurangzeb were killed in a police encounter on July 30, 2013; while Shafiq, Siraj, Nadir and other accomplices were killed in an encounter with security forces on August 25, 2015.
The arrested suspect has not taken part in any terrorist activity since 2015 when his accomplices were killed, after which he went into hiding.

The police official said that the suspect has informed them about the militants present in Larkana and Khuzdar. Police teams have been dispatched to those areas to unearth the militant network, he added.

Regarding the recent rise in killings of Hazaras, Goraya said, “Security agencies are working with CTD to unearth the perpetrators behind the killings, for which we have very good and proper leads.” “We have procured the names of those who funded and supported these incidents. Raids are being conducted since last night and these individuals are near arrest, we are hopeful that we will be sharing the good news with you soon [of their arrest].”

The Hazara community has been protesting in Quetta for the past three days over the disproportionate targeting of their community by sectarian terrorists.

A report released by the National Commission for Human Rights last month stated that at least 509 members of the Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta during the last five years.

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