Friday Jan 08 2021
Web Desk

Machh tragedy: Ready to visit Quetta today, but slain miners need to be buried first, PM says

Web Desk
PM Imran Khan was speaking at the launch ceremony of the Special Technology Zones Authority. Photo: Screengrab.

  • Prime Minister says ready to go to Quetta at a moment's notice as soon as the dead are buried.
  • Says his visit cannot be made a condition for the burial; terms the demand akin to 'blackmailing the prime minister'.
  • Says government is willing to accept all demands put forth by the protesters, but cannot fulfill this one.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he is ready to go to Quetta immediately if the protesting Hazara community buries their dead — but making the burial conditional on his visit is inappropriate.

Speaking at a launch ceremony of Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad, the premier said he wanted to clear his position on the matter.

"All the demands put forth by the protesters have been accepted; therefore, making the burial [of the dead] conditional on the prime minister's visit is not appropriate," he was quoted as saying by Geo News.

"This is akin to blackmailing the prime minister," he said.

He said that when the 10 coal miners were killed in Machh, he first sent Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed to Quetta and then two federal ministers to assure the Hazara community that the government stood behind them.

"I assured them that they would be compensated and looked after as the affected families have lost their breadwinners."

The premier said the government then accepted all demands put forth by the Hazara protestors, but they are adamant that they would not bury the dead until the prime minister visits Quetta.

"Nowhere in the world can you blackmail a prime minister like this," said PM Imran Khan. "Because then [it opens the door for] every crook to stage a sit-in and demand corruption cases against them be withdrawn. This is very important."

"The Hazara community has faced the most cruelty," the premier said. "They have been persecuted in ways no other [community] has been persecuted. I have visited them and seen their fear."

"India is trying its best to create chaos [in Pakistan]," he said.

"I had already told the cabinet that Shia ulema may be targeted in a bid to spread unrest. A Sunni alim was murdered in Karachi — we put out that fire with great difficulty."

"The Machh labourers were killed with extreme brutality. I sent the interior minister as soon as I learnt about about the Machh incident. Later, two federal ministers were sent as well.

"The government is standing with the Hazara community. I personally assured them that we will take care of them.

"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.

"I want to make it clear that we have accepted all the demands but this is not appropriate that you put forth a condition that does not make sense."