Pak PM leaves for Quetta as blasts' victims remain unburied

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 13, 2013 07:33 hrs

Islamabad: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today left for Quetta to assess the security situation in the southwestern Pakistani city in the wake of unprecedented protests over the killing of nearly 100 Shias in bomb attacks last week.

Ashraf, accompanied by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Postal Services Minister Umar Gorgage, flew to Quetta this morning, state-run media reported.

The premier is expected to meet law enforcement officials and Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi to assess the security situation, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels.

The premier's decision to visit Quetta came as a protest by Hazara Shias entered the third day today. Thousands of Shias have gathered at Alamdar Road in Quetta with the bodies of over 80 victims of the bomb attacks on Thursday.

Shia leaders have said the dead will not be buried till the Balochistan government is dismissed and the army takes control of Quetta.

They have accused some provincial ministers of backing sectarian groups like the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which claimed responsibility for Thursdays attacks in Alamdar Road, a Shia-dominated neighbourhood.

Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani is currently on a private visit to Dubai and reports from Quetta suggested the provincial administration was completely inactive as no senior leaders were available to make decisions.

There were no indications when Raisani would come back to Pakistan though he was directed by the premier to return immediately yesterday.

Official sources said the federal government could make "some important decisions" regarding the situation in Quetta today. The sources did not rule out the possibility of GovernorҒs Rule being imposed in Balochistan.

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