Prime Minister Imran Khan told families of the Hazara coalminers killed in last Sunday’s attack said that he had visited the community in the past, and said that he is aware of the tragedies suffered by the community.
“When the war on terror was going on, and people were afraid to visit your Imam Barghas, I visited your community even then,” he said.
The premier said that he is aware of that a religious militant group had been targeting the Hazara community, and that the last time that he had visited the community, the group had threatened him as well.
“I understand all of your issues; I might be the only politician who understands your 20-year-old [struggle],” Khan said.
The prime minister met with members of the bereaved families yesterday at the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University.
He extended his heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in the incident.
The prime minister said that the intelligence agencies had informed the government last March that a neighbouring country wanted to spread sectarian violence in Pakistan by killing Shia and Sunni scholars.
Lauding the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Khan said that the agency had apprehended culprits and averted several attacks that could have led to sectarian violence.
“When this incident took place, I had no doubt that it was a part of a larger game … it was a step towards spreading violence in the country,” he said.
The prime minister said that “keeping the situation in mind, I had first sent the interior minister your way”.
“The first thing that we had to do was [console] the families who endured heartbreaking setback … Amna bibi, whose five brothers were martyred, and Mohamed Sadiq, a brother of six sisters was also martyred,” he said. “That is why I had sent the interior minister first, so that we could assure the families that we would not abandon them.”
“The second thing I wanted to convey to the Hazara community is that we will [hunt down the people involved in the attack],” Khan said, adding that he is in constant contact with the intelligence agencies in this regard.
“These are 35-40 people who have spread terror in the country; in the past they were known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and now they are a part of the extremist group Daesh (another name for the Islamic State group),” the prime minister said.
“Several of the terrorists have been killed; however, 35-40 of them are left, and now a complete programme is in the works, including a security forces’ cell whose only responsibility will be to ensure your (Hazara community’s) safety and hunt down those responsible,” he said.
The prime minister said that he aims to do two things: assure the aggrieved families, and then the community, that the federal government would ensure their safety.
Khan, speaking about his delay in visiting them, explained that a prime minister has a lot of matters to deal with, compared with the common man: “When I wasn’t prime minister, I had visited you.”
“Nobody can guarantee that an unfortunate incident won’t take place in the country,” he said, adding: “That is why I had asked your community to bury the deceased, and then I would visit you.”
“But when you keep conditions, then it becomes a precedent. Today Imran Khan is the prime minister, tomorrow someone else will be,” he noted.
The premier said that he wants to categorically state that the entire time he has been “completely” in touch with his ministers and the security forces, and sought updates on the sit-in.
“I want to say again, not only I, but the whole country was sharing your sorrow and pain,” Khan said.
He thanked the families for listening to the government and going ahead with the burial of the victims.
“The whole nation will continue to stand with you, as will the provincial and federal governments, the security forces … I came here to tell you that we will take full care of these children and our sisters.”
The prime minister, sharing his vision, said that he aims not only to bring people of the country together, but also bring closer the Muslim states, to end this “divide and rule” philosophy.
“I have tried to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia closer,” he said. “We will try our utmost to root out this element that creates divide in our country and spreads hatred.”
Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen leader Agha Raza said that during the prime minister’s visit, the people registered their protest over the use of the word “blackmail” and how is it “unbecoming of a prime minister”.
Khan clarified that he used the word “blackmail” in reference to the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders, said Raza.
Raza said that the prime minister has assured the community that the agreement signed will be fulfilled.
Late last night, much to the relief of citizens across Pakistan that had been waiting to see a speedy redressal of the grievances of the Hazara community, it was announced that the bodies of the 11 coalminers that were awaiting burial as their heirs staged a sit-in, will be buried.
Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri said that “right after the burial”, the prime minister would leave for Quetta, accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The protesters had refused to bury their loved ones until Prime Minister Khan came to Quetta and meet them.
The premier, during a ceremony on Friday to launch the Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad, said: “One does not blackmail the prime minister of any country this way.”
He urged the Hazara community to not delay burying their loved ones. “I have told them that if they bury the victims today, I will go to Quetta today. However, their demand to bury their relatives only if I visit them is not appropriate and not acceptable,” he said.
The burial took place yesterday morning.
The miners were laid to rest in the Hazara Town graveyard.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Police on rollerblades deploy in Karachi
Protesters end sit-in after PM Khan’s pledge to meet them
Islamabad zoo begins mammoth makeover after Kaavan departure
Pakistan’s multinational naval exercise concludes
Pakistan lab expects Sputnik V doses for commercial sale in a week
Pakistan to allow private companies to import Covid shots: documents
Three climbers on K2 feared dead, three days after going missing
Pakistan kicks off vaccine drive with Chinese jab for health workers
Pakistan’s Charlie Chaplin seeks to raise a smile in bleak times