• The two leaders urge PM to follow suit
• Strike in Quetta to express solidarity with Hazaras
QUETTA: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz, addressing the participants of the sit-in staged by the mourners of the Shia Hazara community, urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit the families of slain coal miners to share their pain and sorrow.
They said the state should provide protection to its citizens, a task in which it had failed.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari and Ms Nawaz arrived here separetely on Thursday to express solidarity with the families of the coal miners and other mourners who have been protesting along with the coffins of the deceased in freezing weather since Sunday.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl secretary general Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri also arrived at the sit-in to express grief over the tragic incident of the Mach coalfield area on behalf of his party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Ms Nawaz and Mr Bhutto-Zardari reached Quetta in the afternoon from Lahore and Karachi, respectively, and went to the Western Bypass, the sit-in site, with senior leaders of their parties, including former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah and Khurram Dastagir.
Speaking on the occasion, the PPP chairman said that it was a great tragedy that no one was safe in the country, particularly the Hazara community of Quetta. “I have come here to share the pain of the grieving families as I myself belong to a family of martyrs and am still waiting for justice”.
He said they were living in a Pakistan where everything was expensive but the blood of people, workers, political activists and lawyers was cheap,
Mr Bilawal-Bhutto said that during the government of his party, the families of around “100 martyrs” had staged a sit-in with the coffins of their loved ones. “We accepted all their demands and dismissed our provincial government in Balochistan,” he added.
“Now Imran Khan is in power and the [Hazara) people are protesting once again with only one demand that they should be given the right to live,” he said.
He said that the Hazara people could not leave their areas to earn livelihood or obtain education. He said that there had been a lot of injustice with the Hazara community as more than 2,000 people belonging to it had been killed but the heirs of not a single victim had received justice.
He said that the people of Hazara community were patriots and appealed to the State to provide them justice and protection. “If the government does not give them justice, what will be our image in the world,” he asked.
The PPP chairman said that the state had pledged that the National Action Plan (NAP) would be implemented and promised the children of the Army Public School that terrorism would be eradicated from the country. “But sadly, backbone of terrorism has not been broken yet. We don’t want to hear that this is a foreign conspiracy. If such a foreign conspiracy succeeds, it is your (the government’s) failure,” he added. “Unless the state assures the citizens that their lives are safe, the security of the country and the federation will remain in jeopardy,” the PPP leader warned.
Maryam Nawaz said that she felt sorry to see the indifference shown by the “person sitting on the seat of power and authority”.
The families of the victims are crying for an assurance from the government, but Imran Khan is not coming here because of his ego,” she said.
The PML-N leader warned that if Mr Khan did not come to Quetta, the “nation will not allow him to sit on the chair in Islamabad”.
She said that doomsday had come for the Hazara community.
Ms Nawaz said that the mourners would not bury the bodies until Imran Khan came there.
Quoting Imran Khan as saying that “politics is being done on the corpses” she said that he could hide his indifference and failure.
She said that the families of the slain miners were not asking for any big thing, they were sitting under the open sky to seek justice, asking Imran Khan to come to Quetta, talk to them and put a hand of compassion on their heads. “Has his ego become so inflated that he can’t come here?”
Ms Nawaz said that the prime minister was not coming to Quetta because he was afraid of criticism.
“If they have to listen to criticism, they should do so as it is their duty to share the sorrows and pains of the people. For God’s sake, have mercy on God’s creatures.”
She said that the Hazara community was loyal to the soil and had served the country and now it was the turn of the state to heal its wounds.
Meanwhile, Quetta wore a deserted look on Thursday as shops, markets, shopping malls and business establishments remained closed in response to strike call by the traders organisations.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2021