Stranded at border: Did Govt deliberately abandon Shiite pilgrims?
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2016-10-23 10:44:40

Stranded at border: Did Govt deliberately abandon Shiite pilgrims?

 

Up to 700 Pakistani pilgrims, including a large number of women and children, are currently stranded in Iran after a travel agent failed to procure visas for the onward leg of their journey which would have taken them to Iraq. Pilgrims, intending to travel to Karbala in Iraq to observe Ashura, had booked with the Karachi-based travel company Karavan of Pride. The travel agency, located in Gulistan-e-Jauhar area of Karachi, had offered pilgrims a budget package to visit the holy sites in Iran and Iraq that would enable them to undertake the trip for just Rs60,000 which is nearly half the average fare. The pilgrims cannot be allowed to travel alone to Quetta largely because of an increasing viciousness of militant outfit and their sectarian bloodlust. Earlier this month, a similar attack on a bus in Quetta killed five Hazara women. In such arduous times, this unavailability of personnel protection despite various much-touted governmental claims of tighter safety arrangements for Shia Muslims this year validates their oblivion to a looming security threat. It is not just the security of people stranded on the border, which needs immediate attention, but also the welfare of Pakistanis at large. In the wake of circumstances that were causing delays to their travel plans, the authorities should have at least paid heed to a timely provision of food supplies until the arrangements were resolved. Even though the ministry of religious affairs is finally gearing up to realise its responsibilities towards Hajj pilgrims, last few years spelt sheer incompetence in response to pilgrims’ grievances. Negligence of Hajj administrators on top of expensive accommodations in far-flung areas nearly always exacerbated the woes of an otherwise spiritual journey .The residents of any country expect their state’s machinery to at least work towards if not ensure their security and welfare. However, the nonchalance with which Pakistani authorities continue to treat the lives of their civilians, both inside and outside their country, paints a very grim picture of their disregard for an average Pakistani. Although government should facilitate all pilgrims in whatever sphere they can, no matter what journey they are embarking upon, a particular attention to their security should be given in areas considered vulnerable to militant designs. In the case of Shia pilgrims, the government should overcome its indifference to their plight and instead carve out an effective line of action on an immediate basis. 

pk.shafaqna.com

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