Thousands gather in Islamabad to urge government to end ‘sectarian hatred’

Protesters at a rally in Islamabad on September 17, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 September 2020

Thousands gather in Islamabad to urge government to end ‘sectarian hatred’

  • Muttahida Sunni Council, a conglomerate of religious groups and parties, organizes rally in front of Parliament House in Islamabad
  • Islamabad deputy commissioner says no one affiliated with banned outfits participating, criminal cases to be registered against protesters if they resorted to hate speech 

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of protesters gathered in the federal capital on Thursday, urging the government to take measures to put an end to sectarian hatred in Pakistan, including through effective legislation that would protect the honor of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Muttahida Sunni Council, a conglomerate of religious groups and parties, organized the rally in front of Parliament House in Islamabad, with many participants arriving from cities in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
The Council also held two major protest rallies in Karachi and Peshawar against Shiite clerics who, its leaders said, had made derogatory remarks about the prophet’s companions during Muharram processions this year.
“We want the government to hold all those spreading sectarian hatred in the country accountable,” Qazi Abdul Rasheed, one of the organizers of the rally, told Arab News.
He said the government should legislate to protect the honor of the Prophet’s companions to ensure ‘sectarian harmony’ in the country.
“Our protests are completely peaceful as we strongly believe in sectarian harmony, but some elements have been trying to create chaos in the country through hate speech,” Rasheed added.
The Sunni Council is planning to hold rallies in Multan and Lahore later this month.
The entry of the protest rally into the federal capital resulted in massive traffic congestion, though the administration had deployed hundreds of police and security officers to maintain order.
“It is insane to allow protesters in Islamabad on a working day,” Muhammad Shakeel, a commuter who was stuck in traffic near the Faizabad interchange that connects Islamabad with neighboring Rawalpindi city, told Arab News.
He said the district administration should have asked the protesters to hold their rally in a designated place on the outskirts of the city instead of allowing them to reach the heart of Islamabad and disrupt public life.
Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat, deputy-commissioner Islamabad, said the council was holding the protest rally under the banner of “Shan-e-Sahaba” and were therefore allowed entry to a designated space in front of Parliament House.
“The council is holding a protest rally in Islamabad as per law,” he told Arab News. “No person affiliated with any banned outfit is participating in the rally ...We will register criminal cases against them if they resort to hate speech or try to violate rules and regulations.”


Pakistan condemns deadly attack at education center in Kabul

Updated 24 October 2020

Pakistan condemns deadly attack at education center in Kabul

  • Daesh reportedly claim responsibility for attack on educational center in western Kabul
  • Uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned the suicide attack that killed at least 18 people at an educational center in the Afghan capital on Saturday.

The attack happened late afternoon at the center which offers higher education training in a western district of Kabul. At least 57 people were injured in the attack, the interior ministry said. According to media reports, Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault in a post on Telegram.

"Pakistan condemns in the strongest possible terms the inhuman terrorist attack outside an educational center in Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul," Pakistan's Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and will continue to support a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."

The suicide attack came hours after a roadside bomb killed nine civilians east of Kabul. Officials blamed the Taliban for the roadside attack.

An uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to yield a lasting peace and end decades of conflict in the war-torn country.

The Taliban have been accused of increasing violence to wield leverage in the negotiations.

On Friday, rights group Amnesty International said at least 50 people had been killed in attacks in the preceding week, accusing the Taliban and Kabul of failing to protect civilians.