Don’t blackmail me, PM Imran Khan tells Hazara protesters

Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Friday that he will not be blackmailed into coming to Quetta and would visit the mourners sitting along with bodies of 11 labourers in extreme weather conditions only when they bury the dead. This condition from the prime minister has been rejected by the mourners.

“If you bury the dead today, I assure you that I will visit Quetta today,” PM Imran announced while speaking as a chief guest at the launching ceremony of Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad.

The prime minister was of the view that linking the burial with his prior visit made no sense, adding that no one blackmails a sitting prime minister like this anywhere in the world.

“If this condition is accepted then everyone will blackmail the prime minister,” the premier said, adding that a gang of robbers – the opposition parties – is also trying to blackmail him for the last two-and-a-half years.

The prime minister went on to add that all the demands of the bereaved families and people protesting in Quetta have already been accepted except the condition that they would bury the dead only when PM visits them.

“Do not put a condition that makes no sense,” Imran said.

In his speech, PM Imran once again accused India of spreading chaos in Pakistan, saying he has been saying it since March 2019 that “India is fully involved in spreading chaos” and wants to spread sectarian violence in the country.

He lauded the intelligence agencies for averting four major terrorist attacks since he has informed his cabinet and openly expressed about India’s involvement in terrorism activities in Pakistan.

Imran said that Hazara community was the most targeted one in the country; he has visited them many times in the past and witnessed their fear, adding that “no community has been oppressed the way the Hazara community has been oppressed over the years.”
Deeming the murder of 11 coalminers brutal, he said, all this is part of the conspiracy hatched by India which has been highlighted many times since March. “It’s a big attempt to spread sectarian divide,” he maintained.

Saying that the government was aware of the sufferings of the Hazara community, Imran said that he first sent the interior minister and later two other federal ministers to Quetta to tell the protestors that the government was with them and it will provide every kind of compensation as “bread earners” were killed in Machh.

“We have accepted all of their demands. [But] one of their demands is that the dead will be buried when the premier visits. I have sent them a message that when all of your demands have been accepted […] you don’t blackmail the prime minister of any country like this.
“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.”

“There will be no burial and the protest sit-in will continue,” Arbab Liaquat, focal person for the committee representing the mourners, declared a few hours after Imran Khan gave the statement at a ceremony in Islamabad. “You are saying you will come after burials, why not before? How can we believe that Imran Khan will come,” the focal person said. Commenting on the tag of “blackmail”, Arbab Liaquat asked that how can the Hazara community blackmail the Prime Minister. “Are we political,” he asked, adding that more protestors were joining the camp while the government of Balochistan had failed to provide them with security.

Addressing a press conference a little while later, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that the premier would travel to Quetta to meet with the grieving families as soon as the victims were laid to rest.

“It is Imran Khan’s wish that he goes there and he is ready to go, there is no obstacle in him going,” said Rashied, adding that the premier wanted to hold a “detailed discussion” with the Hazara community once the victims are buried “so all issues can be resolved and decided peacefully”.

“It is not about burials, it is about certain situations,” he explained. “If the prime minister goes there and the crowd is removed and security in involved, that can also cause conflict and the corpses may get disrespected so it is better to go in an organised manner,” he added.

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