Saturday Jan 09 2021
Web Desk

Slain coal miners to be buried as talks in Quetta between govt, protesters succeed

Web Desk
Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi addressing the protester's camp, in Quetta, on January 9, 2021. — YouTube
  • After successful talks, families of slain coal miners in Quetta agree to bury them
  • Ali Haider Zaidi says a written accord was struck for the first time between the government and the Hazara community
  • NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri says PM Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will reach Quetta "right after the burial"

In a late night development, much to the relief of citizens across Pakistan that had been waiting to see a speedy redressal of the grievances of the Hazara community, it was announced that the 10 coal miners who were massacred by terrorists six days ago will be buried.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri said that "right after the burial", Prime Minister Imran Khan will leave for Quetta and will be accompanied by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi who had been spearheading talks in Quetta on behalf of the government said such incidences of violence must now come to an end. "We are making amends for the last 70 years," he said.

Zaidi said that a written agreement had been reached with the Shuhda Action Committee. "No such written accord has ever been struck before with any other government," he remarked.

"The demands put before us were difficult," said Zaidi, adding that the "officers that must be removed have been decided".

The minister said that if governance in Pakistan "had not been so poor, poverty like this would not have existed".

"People would not have been massacred like this," he said, adding: "Foreign elements wish to create sectarian division in Pakistan."

Zaidi also announced scholarships on behalf of his ministry for the children of all the victims.

With the agreement reached, the sit-in by the families of the victims of the massacre, which had been staged for the past six days in freezing cold temperatures, came to an end and the bodies were carried away to be buried.

Chief minister thanks families for agreeing to burial

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan thanked the mourning families for agreeing to bury their loved ones.

"We will try our utmost to serve you better," he said, adding that the system that does not have justice as a foundation does not prosper.

"You have honoured us and Balochistan by agreeing to our request (for the burial of the slain miners)," Jam Kamal said.

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan addressing the protester's camp, in Quetta, on January 9, 2021. — YouTube

The chief minister said that this should be a learning lesson for the rulers of the country, adding that the demands met today should have been met without this sit-in.

"It shouldn't be so that a sit-in takes place; every government should meet these requirements," he said.

Concluding his address, the chief minister apologised to the protesters, saying that he was sorry for the inconvenience caused to them. He added that he "felt no shame in apologising to his people."

Sit-ins come to an end in other cities

Meanwhile, Assistant Commisioner Model Town Zeeshan Ranjha in Lahore said that the sit-in in the city had come to an end following successful talks with the protesters.

Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen has announced it is ending the sit-in from Chungi Amar Sadhu, Ranjha announced.

A similar announcement by the MWM was made in Karachi for the protest held in Numaish Chowrangi, paving the way for protests in nearly 30 different points in the city to also come to an end.

Protesters gathered at D-Chowk in Islamabad also dispersed.

The incident

Ten colliers were killed and four others were seriously injured on Sunday after armed men attacked them at a coal field in Balochistan's Bolan district.

The coal miners, according to police, were taken to nearby mountains where they were shot.

According to AFP, the 10 miners were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday as they slept near the remote coal mine in the southwestern mountainous Machh area — 60 kilometres southeast of Quetta city, local government official Abid Saleem said.

Security officials who did not want to be named told AFP the attackers first separated the miners before tying their hands and feet and taking them into the hills to kill them. Most were shot, however some were beheaded, said officials who did not want to be named.

Officials on Monday clarified ten people had died in the attack, revising a previous death toll of 11, AFP reported.

The militant group Daesh claimed the attack, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors militant activities worldwide.