ISLAMABAD – The civil society activists condemning the recent sectarian killings of about 20 Muslims in Gilgit-Baltistan have urged the government to immediately arrest the perpetrators or else resign.

The activists protested in front of National Press Club Friday and raised slogans against the target killings on the basis of religion and sect and demanded of the government to provide protection to Shia community. The protesters represented civil society organisations including Movement of Justice, Pattan Development Organisations, Sungi Development Organisation, Rozan, Human Rights Commission of Social Justice and Peace, Women Councilor’s Network, Awami Party Pakistan, Women Action Forum, SPO, Sister’s Trust, Sachet, Labor Quomi Movement and Shirkat Gah.

They appealed to all political forces in the country to speak with one voice without any reservation to condemn religious militant groups involved in fanning sectarianism in the country and killing of innocent people because of their religious belief. It demanded ban on all sectarian organizations in the country and urged the government to come up with an effective strategy to defend religious minorities and sects in the country.

They noted with disgust that despite claims of some of the banned religious outfits who publicly take the responsibility for these horrific crimes against humanity in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, no action has been taken against these organizations.

They lamented that hundreds of people belonging to Gilgit-Baltistan have been forced to celebrate Eid in Islamabad as they do not feel secure to travel on the only road leading to their native areas.   Activist Farzana Bari blamed the establishment for such incidents saying that the government always announce enquiry committees after such incidents but no such committee has been able to provide relief to victims and their families.

The civil society has constantly been protesting on these crimes against humanity and has been demanding the government to take stern action against the perpetrators but no steps have been taken so far by the government to stop the violence which is pushing the country towards a civil war situation, she added.

Executive Director PODA Samna Nazir regretted that no religious party has condemned the senseless killings in Gilgit Baltistan. She urged them to play their role and issue statements against religious groups involved in sectarian killings. She also demanded ban on all groups operating in the name of religion or sectarianism in the country.

The members of Gilgit-Baltistan Volunteer Movement urging the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of the brutal killings regretted that the government and highest judiciary has always ignored the issue.

Mustafa Kamal from the movement informed that this was not the first incident in the area as the road to Gilgit was not safe for any one, either Sunni or Shia.