• Says 35-40 IS men also involved in attacks
• Assures victim families of protection
• Coal miners killed in Mach last Sunday laid to rest
QUETTA: Calling the Shia Hazara workers’ massacre in Balochistan part of a wider plot hatched by India to destabilise Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that India has been involved in such nefarious terrorist activities to create disharmony and sectarian strife in the country.
Since March 2020 he had been aware of this as intelligence agencies had informed the government that India wanted to spread anarchy in the country by killing Shia and Sunni scholars and he informed the cabinet and gave public statements too, PM Khan said on Saturday while lauding the efforts of Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) for foiling three to four plots aimed at targeting religious leaders and creating chaos.
The prime minister expressed these views in his interaction with the families of the victims after their weeklong sit-in demanding his visit along with the official assurance of proper protection to the frequently targeted Shia Hazara community.
The weeklong deadlock between the protesters and the government over the PM’s decision not to visit the mourning families until their burial ended in the early morning hours after two federal ministers and the chief minister of Balochistan assured them of his visit anytime ‘soon’ and acceptance of all their demands.
Hours later, a large number of people, including Hazara community members, workers of Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, Shuhada Action Committee, federal Minister Ali Haider Zaidi, Special Assistant to the PM Zulfiqar Bukhari, deputy speaker of the National Assembly and many officials attended the funeral of the victims in Hazara Town.
MWM leader Allama Raja Nasir Abbas led the funeral prayers. The bodies were later taken to Hazara graveyard for burial.
Official sources said that three bodies, whose heirs were not in Quetta and who through the Afghan government had requested the Pakistani officials to send these bodies to Afghanistan, were also buried in Quetta.
Talking to the families of nearly a dozen Hazara coal miners who had been brutally killed in Mach a week ago, Prime Minister Khan said he had “no doubt what happened was part of a bigger game”. He assured the bereaved families that the federal and provincial governments were making all-out efforts to protect the community.
He expressed the resolve that the government would chase down the culprits involved in Mach tragedy and would bring them to justice.
The PM said: “Not only am I sharing your grief but the whole nation shared it. The whole nation stands with you, my government, provincial government and the intelligence agencies are standing with you.
“My mission is not only to unite the whole country but the entire Muslim Ummah. To end this divide, we have tried to remove differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Noting that the Hazara community has suffered immensely due to terrorism in the past, Mr Khan recalled that he had visited them in the past and “faced threats when he condemned a sectarian group”.
While reiterating that his government would go behind the terrorists involved in the killing of Hazara people, the prime minister said: “There are 35 to 40 people involved in such attacks belonging to ISIS as elements of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi who earlier had been involved in terrorist attacks joined Islamic State.” He hinted at the creation of a separate cell in security forces to give full protection to the community and eliminating terrorists.
Sharing grief of the community, the prime minister cited Amna bibi who lost her five brothers in the tragedy and Mohammad Sadiq who was the only bread earner of his six sisters and assured the families that the government would provide all possible support to them.
He said he had sent federal ministers, including Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid, to console with the families and assure them of government’s full support. He said he had requested the protesting Hazara families to bury their dead as his visit to Quetta before the burial would have set a precedent, making it difficult not only for him but also for other premiers in the future. But he said he was in constant touch with all the stakeholders during these days. He said he was happy that the Hazara families agreed to his advice for burial. He had come to give the bereaved families and their community full confidence.
Security situation reviewed
Earlier, the prime minister chaired a meeting to discuss the overall security situation of the province, particularly the tragic killing of Hazara miners, with the federal and provincial leadership.
Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, federal ministers Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Syed Ali Zaidi, Ali Amin Gandapur, PM’s aide Zulfiqar Bukhari and NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri attended the meeting. Home minister Minister Ziaullah Langov, Commander of Southern Command Lt Gen Sarfaraz Ali, Inspector General of Police Balochistan Mohsin Hassan Butt, Chief Secretary Capt (Retd) Fazeel Asghar and senior civil and military officers were also present, adds APP.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021