The 3000 Pakistani pilgrims returning home from Iran stranded at Pak-Iran border, Taftan. They are stranded since August 2 due to lack of security needed to escort to their buses.
Pilgrims returning from Iran and Iraq are usually escorted by security forces due to past attacks and existing threats by sectarian outfits on buses carrying pilgrims.
According to sources Pakistan House in Taftan has capacity of 200 people that made the situation worst. The food items and cash carried by the pilgrims have finished while local shopkeepers have raised the prices of food items. Stranded people, particularly women, compelled to sell jewelry to buy food items.
The Zaireen have been forced to prolong their stay at the Taftan border on the pretext of security threat for more than two weeks but government and security agencies have failed to counter that particular threat and provide foolproof security for their motorcade, so far.
These ill-fated Shia pilgrims are being treated step-motherly at Taftan, the border town of Pakistan near Iranian Mir Javeh border. There is no shelter for them, no hygienic condition and no essential facility that is needed for a comfortable stay. These pilgrims have to remain under sky in this sweltering summer season.
Shia Muslims go to Iran for pilgrimage of the sacred shrines of the infallible Imam Reza and other Imam Zadegan and it is the only road route that links Pakistan with Iraq and Zaireen also go to pilgrimage of sacred shrines of infallible Imams Ali, Hussain, Moosa Kazim, Mohammad Taqi, Ali Naqi and Hassan Askari (peace be upon them).
The road route is adopted by those Shia Zaireen who cannot afford the expenses of air travel due to their financial constraints. But, biased and delinquent officials of the security agencies and the government have raised the cost of this relatively cheaper road route for pilgrims by forcing them to prolong their stay at Taftan.
Three weeks forced stay means three weeks heavy expenses on food, water and everything they utilize even though they don’t get potable drinking water there. Now, road route pilgrimage too cost them dearly and also put their life under threat.
This forces stay on the pretext of security threat is nothing but an illegal mean to loot pilgrims by other means. Their forced stay is a source of easy earning for all those involved in this nexus.
Shia pilgrims long for their departure to Quetta from Taftan for two weeks. Shia Muslims have also posted their complaints about pilgrims stuck at Taftan on social media but neither military leadership nor civilian government has so far taken any practical step to provide security for their convoy. They had to spend the 70th anniversary of Independence of Pakistan like slaves at Taftan. They are still demanding if there is anyone among the power that be who makes an immediate decision to rid them of this forced stay?