LAHORE/KARACHI   -  ARSHAD BHATTI/FARAZ ISRAR  -  The leaders of all the major parties, including religio-political parties, strongly condemned the Rawalpindi tragedy which claimed several people’s lives, and demanded the government bring the culprits to justice to stop such recurrence of such incidents in future.

In a statement on Saturday, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan expressed deep grief over the loss of lives and property and held foreign agencies responsible for the incident. He said the government had failed to maintain law and order. He said after the Gujranwala incident security should have been beefed up, but the government was content with routine security measures and the miscreants got an opportunity to achieve their goal.

 The JI chief said the government would have to take extraordinary measures to avert sectarian clashes in the country because the anti-state and anti-Islam forces never missed any opportunity to harm the national unity and harmony.

Munawar called upon the government to convene a meeting of leading ulema from the two sides to ascertain the facts and fix responsibility so that the culprits could be awarded a stringent punishment to check recurrence of such incidents. He said it was the duty of the police and security institutions to ensure that the mourning procession adopted its set route and did not divert from it.

He also appealed to both the sides to demonstrate patience and tolerance as Islam preached love and brotherhood. Shedding the blood of fellow Muslims was not permissible in Islam and it also undermined unity of the Ummah, he added.

JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch condemned the Rawalpindi incident and held it was well-planned and aimed at spreading sectarian violence all over the country. He said occurrence of the horrible incident so close to the federal capital was a question mark on the efficiency of the administration. He said the involvement of the foreign agencies bent upon destabilising this country could not be ruled out.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the Rawalpindi incident proved failure of the law-enforcement agencies. According to a press statement, Fazlur Rehman told the party leaders and delegations that the incident of Raja Bazaar was a conspiracy against the country. He said it was responsibility of the government to unmask the culprits behind such conspiracies. He said the government would have to set aside all the compromises and take action to foil such conspiracies in the future. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Maulana Amjad Khan, Mufti Abrar Ahmed, Maulana Muhammad Sharif, Maulana Taj Muhammad Khan and other party leaders were also present on this occasion.

Meanwhile, the JUI-F chief talked to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif by telephone and discussed the situation after the sectarian clash in Rawalpindi. He stressed the need for judicial probe into the tragedy. He said the Raja Bazaar incident was failure of the administration. He appealed to the people to observe patience in this hour of trial.

Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) spokesman Allama Hasan Zafar Naqvi, while welcoming the Punjab chief minister’s decision of judicial probe into the Rawalpindi incident, opined the judicial commission should be empowered to investigate all the agencies and persons and fix responsibility.

According to a statement, Allama Naqvi said the incident was a repetition of the Karachi incident that occurred in 2009. He appealed to ulema from all the sects to play their due role in keeping peace in the country. He observed the Rawalpindi incident depicted the failure of the law-enforcement agencies.

He urged the Shiites to remain peaceful and cooperate with the law-enforcement agencies so that the real culprits could be nabbed.

Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief Dr Tahirul Qadri urged the nation to remain peaceful. He said the government had totally failed to fulfill its responsibility for maintaining law and order and checking sectarian violence.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, while condemning the Rawalpindi incident, said conspiracies were being hatched to destroy peace in the country.

In a statement, he urged the government to unmask the culprits though a high-level probe body. He said loss of lives and property was condemnable and added that some hidden forces were trying to destabilise the country.

Sunni Ittehad Council also condemned the incident and urged the masses to be patient to foil the international conspiracy of destabilising the country though sectarian divide.

Meanwhile, political and religious parties in Karachi expressed grief over the killing of the people and burning of markets in a clash between two groups during an Ashura procession at Raja Bazaar of Rawalpindi.

In a statement, PPP Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the Rawalpindi incident and expressed deep grief over the loss of innocent human lives and the damage caused to property.

Bilawal said while the entire nation was praying for a peaceful Ashura across the country, the Punjab government lacked attention to maintain law and order, adding the administration could avert the sparking incident through simple pre-emptive administrative steps.

The PPP patron-in-chief expressed sympathies with those who lost their loved ones. He also prayed for early recovery of the injured.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain, expressing grief over the incident, said it was deplorable that the enemies had once again succeeded in igniting sectarian strife. He was addressing the party office bearers of various wings at Lal Qila ground, Azizabad, on Saturday.

Altaf appealed to the people across the country to maintain sectarian harmony at all cost. He urged the people to keep an eye on the conspirators trying to flare up sectarian violence over petty differences.

“The people who hatch conspiracies to ignite sectarian strife cannot be well-wishers of the Ummah and cannot be called Muslims,” he asserted. He also appealed to scholars and elders of both the sects to come forward to stop sectarian violence. He asked them to work for sectarian harmony and pan-Islamism.

Shia Ulema Council Pakistan Chief Allama Sajid Ali Naqvi condemned the incident and appealed to the masses to defeat the conspiracy of creating unrest with the help of harmony. “It seems the incident was planned to achieve nefarious aims and sabotage the peace during the month of Muharram-ul-Haram,” Naqvi observed and demanded a judicial commission to probe the incident and punish the culprits involved in it.

Mohajir Quami Movement-Haqqiqi (MQM-H) Chairman Afaq Ahmed also expressed grief over the loss of the precious lives and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits involved in this wicked act.