Protests over the brutal killing of 11 Hazara minority coal miners by Daesh spill over to several areas, including the economic powerhouse Karachi, officials say.

Mourners from Shia Hazara community gather next to the coffins of miners who were killed in an attack by Daesh in Balochistan province, during a sit-in on the outskirts of Quetta on January 7, 2021.
Mourners from Shia Hazara community gather next to the coffins of miners who were killed in an attack by Daesh in Balochistan province, during a sit-in on the outskirts of Quetta on January 7, 2021. (AFP)

Protests over the killing of 11 Shia Hazara minority coal miners by Daesh have spread to several cities in Pakistan, including the economic powerhouse Karachi, as the government announces plans to establish interfaith harmony councils to fight growing sectarianism.  

Police said on Thursday there were sit-ins in at least 19 locations in the sprawling southern metropolis.

The protesters have urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Quetta, where demonstrators have kept up a five-day vigil alongside coffins carrying the victims' bodies, blocking a major highway. 

On Wednesday, PM Khan urged them to bury their dead and dispatched two ministers to persuade protesters to end the sit-in. 

Demands also include the dissolution of the provincial government there, and a serious effort by Islamabad to find and punish the culprits.

READ MORE: Pakistan's Hazara protest: Sit-in won't end until slain miners get justice

History of attacks

Most of Sunday's victims were seasonal migrant workers from an impoverished area of neighbouring Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Hazara have been killed in Pakistan over the last decade in attacks by militant groups.

Attacks have included bombings in schools and crowded markets and brazen ambushes of buses along Pakistani roads.

Flights were delayed because access to the airport had been affected.

Interfaith harmony councils

Meanwhile, Pakistan said on Thursday it is establishing interfaith harmony councils at the local, provincial and national level to promote dialogue and resolve sectarian conflicts, 

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, special representative of the prime minister on religious harmony, said PM Khan is striving for unity among Muslim countries.

"There is no space for sectarianism in Islam. We have a tolerant society in Pakistan, where we work together with Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and other minorities. They are far safer here if you compare what is happening with Muslim minorities in France, India, and many other countries," he said.

Ashrafi, who is also the chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council, a top body of religious scholars, said terror groups such as Daesh and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are destabilising Muslim countries and harming the cause of Islam.

"They killed 11 innocent people in Balochistan. What do these organisations do in Syria, Iraq, Libya?" he said, blaming India for being the main sponsor of the terrorist organisations. 

"This is India that is providing funding to Daesh in Afghanistan and Pakistan. India wants to destabilise other Muslim countries through these terror groups," he said. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies