QUETTA: Hundreds of protesters from the Hazara community on Sunday staged a demonstration in Quetta against a government ban on road travel to Iran where they go for pilgrimage.
Men, women and children sat on a main road carrying placards and chanting slogans, demanding the ban be lifted.
They also called for better security for pilgrims travelling to the holy sites in Iran and Iraq via Balochistan, which borders Iran.
Pakistan imposed a ban on road trips to Iran after four suicide bombers struck two restaurants in the remote town of Taftan near the Iranian border last week, killing 24 pilgrims who were returning home.
A large number of Shias travel to Iran via dangerous roads passing through the restive Balochistan province.
“We have staged this sit-in protest to urge the government to reopen the road route to Iran because everybody can’t afford an aeroplane ticket,” Daud Agha, a senior leader of the community, told AFP.
“We will not conclude our protest until the government decides positively about our demands,” Agha added.
Two devastating bombings in Quetta targeting the city’s residents killed nearly 200 people last year and were claimed by banned extremist organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has links to al Qaeda.
The Hazara community staged similar protests last year also to demand improved security for their areas of Quetta.
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