Friday Jan 08, 2021
KARACHI: PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz on Friday challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan to explain to the "mourning" nation why he was not going to Quetta to meet with and share the grief of the bereaved families of the Machh massacre victims, who have been protesting in freezing cold at the provincial capital's Western Bypass.
Speaking to media here at PML-N leader Miftah Ismail's residence in Karachi, Maryam Nawaz, while referring to PM Imran Khan, said the nation "is curious about what's stopping [him] from going to Quetta".
"We — Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Khurram Dastgir, Pervez Rashid, and Muhammad Zubair — are coming directly from Quetta and we came to Karachi since there was no direct flight to Lahore. Yesterday, we went to meet the Hazara community who has been through a hellish tragedy and joined their sit-in," she said. "The whole nation is mourning.
"My heart shook at the scenes I witnessed yesterday" at the Hazara community's sit-in in Quetta," she added, noting that she felt their pain as well. "What could we do but comfort and console?
"Those colliers, who earned their livelihoods by going hundreds of feet underground, were brutally and mercilessly executed... It's a huge human tragedy. Some of the affected women said there was no man in their house now to shoulder the coffin.
"I join my hands to implore the Hazara community to bury their loved ones and hand them over to Allah. The man to whom the Hazara community has pinned its hopes has no heart," she added, referring to the premier."
Further criticising PM Imran Khan, Maryam Nawaz said that 220 million people's fates have been handed over to a person who "destroyed the economy".
"The government's failure and incompetence led to the terrorist incident and Imran Khan is a shameless man! The victims are not asking Imran Khan for anything but just want a hand of compassion on their heads.
Maryam said the victims' families only wished for the premier to visit the protest site after which they would bury their loved ones. "Prime Minister, your attitude is pharaonic... one can only pray for him," she added.
"Imran Khan is fighting with the bereaved and oppressed. His ego is preventing them from visiting the victims' families. It was not just his responsibility to visit them but his duty," she added, saying the premier had to answer not only to the people but also to God.
"If this is your superstition, then tell us the reason as well. Turns out today that it was not a security threat but Imran Khan's ego and stubbornness [in not visiting the protesting families]. What was the point of not visiting Imran Khan? You're a coward!"
The PML-N leader explained that she and those who accompanied her to Quetta did not get the security clearance either but "we went there anyway".
"The prime minister has time to play with dogs and watch dramas but none to meet with and talk to the victims' families. Politics is the name of serving the nation and the people. Don't teach us."
Maryam Nawaz added that former military leader Pervez Musharraf gave the country the "gift of terrorism" but it was Nawaz Sharif who eradicated it. "Today, I will not talk about the politics of PDM," she stressed, referring to the Opposition-led anti-government campaign under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement.
"We had hoped to see Balochistan Chief Minister but he was nowhere to be found also not seen. However, we did see a few statements from him on social media. The 'apathetic' Khan and the Balochistan CM were not available to the people in this hour of sorrow.
"You declared the families of the martyrs as blackmailers. Your comment is heartbreaking and you have insulted humanity. Tell me prime minister, are these innocent girls the 'blackmailers'?"
Earlier, as Maryam Nawaz arrived in Karachi accompanied by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other Opposition leaders, PML-N leader Kesoo Mal Kheeal Das presented her an ajrak.
The PML-N VP was set to meet some other party leaders before departing for Lahore at 7pm today.
Separately, in a show of solidarity with the members of the Hazara community, people from across Pakistan have been holding protests to demand justice.
In Karachi alone, more than 30 protest sites — including the primary one at Numaish Chowrangi — have been brimming with members of the civil society and activists demanding justice for the Machh massacre victims.
Organised by political and religious parties, the sit-ins have been going on for days in numerous localities, including Corridor 3, Natha Khan Goth, Colony Gate, Surjani Town, Khuda Ki Basti, Ancholi, Five Star, Ayesha Manzil, Nazimabad No. 7, Nazimabad No. 1, NIPA, Abul Hasan Isphahani Road, University Road, Samama Bridge, Johar Morr, Rabia City, Kamran Chowrangi, Safoora Chowrangi, Ziauddin Chowrangi, Nagan Chowrangi, PP Chowrangi, Pahlawan Goth, Malir 15, Star Gate, Powerhouse, Tower, Steel Town Chowk, Korangi No. 2½, KDA Flats, Jahangir Road, Mosque & Imambargah Shah-e-Najaf, Malir Gate, Korangi Crossing, and Shah Faisal Colony.