Friday Jan 08, 2021
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Friday responded to criticism by the Opposition over the use of the word "blackmail" by Prime Minister Imran Khan as he spoke about the sit-in in Quetta by the Hazara community.
The community has been protesting since Sunday, after 10 miners were massacred by terrorists near a coal field in Balochistan's Machh town, and have refused to bury their loved ones until the prime minister goes to meet them.
The prime minister, during a ceremony today to launch Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad, had said: "One does not blackmail the prime minister of any country this way."
His remarks stirred up a storm, with the Opposition criticising the premier for likening just demands to "blackmail" and for "lacking humanity".
Faraz, in his rebuttal to the Opposition said: "The people who see a tragedy like this one as an opportunity for political point scoring are the ones who do not have any humanity left in them."
He said the prime minister used the word "blackmail" for those very people who "politicise every matter".
He said that the prime minister shares in the sorrow of the affected families and considers it his top-most priority to provide them justice.
Later, in a conversation with Geo News on programme "Report Card", aide to the Punjab chief minister on information, Firdous Ashiq Awan said: "The prime minister's use of the word blackmail was not aimed at the deceased coal miners or their families, it was used for those people who attempted to place a value on the bodies."
Earlier in the day, Opposition leaders criticised the prime minister heavily for his choice of words and his delay for unknown reasons in going to Quetta to meet with the mourning families.
PPP's Senator Sherry Rehman said that PM Imran Khan thinks that people asking him to fulfil their just demands are blackmailing him.
The PPP leader said that the "egoistic" and "ruthless" prime minister has set the worst example.
Rehman said that his statement was "an insult to corpses of the slain coal miners."
"He has proved that he is not only incompetent but also ruthless."
Meanwhile, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said: "This is the height of insensitivity; you are responsible for 220 million people."
"If you refer to the cries of the people as blackmail, then you should be ashamed of yourself," she added.
Maryam said that visiting the grieving families was the prime minister's obligation and "he will have to do this".
"You have time to meet Turkish dramas and meet actors," she said in reference to the prime minister's meeting with the founding team of the Turkish hit TV series Ertugrul from the previous day.
"You have time to play with your dogs but not place your hand over the heads of the oppressed," she added.