QUETTA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday arrived here to express solidarity with the Hazara community, and promised them the government will go after the perpetrators with full force, hours after the community called off its sit-in and buried the slain coal miners after six days of protest.
Accompanied by the federal and provincial leadership, the Prime Minister met the bereaved families, who were called to a local university to meet the Premier, where he offered Fateha for peace of the departed souls of the miners. The miners were killed in a terrorist incident in the Machh area of District Bolan, Balochistan on January 3.
In a video that was posted on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Twitter account, the Prime Minister gave the families assurances that they would be protected. He promised them that this government’s treatment of them would be different (than others) and that “we have agreed in writing that whatever we have promised to you will be fulfilled”. He was also filmed patting children on the head affectionately. He listened to several people speak one by one and gave them assurances.
Later, he spoke to the families and said as a Prime Minister, it is different than being a citizen. He went to them as a citizen, but if he acceded to their conditions, it would set a precedent. But he assured them he was closely following the events and promised them “we will completely go after those [who were behind the crime]”.
He also said the perpetrators number “35-40 people”, and a cell of security forces was being formed to protect the Hazara.
Khan’s arrival followed days of negotiations between the government and protesters, who had refused to bury the bodies until the Premier arrived. The protest was finally called off late on Friday after they reached an agreement with the government of Balochistan.
More than 4,000 people attended the last rites. Mourners chanted slogans of “down with terrorism and arrest the culprits”, an AFP photographer at the scene said. The Prime Minister also chaired a meeting here to discuss with the federal and provincial leadership the overall security situation of the province, particularly the killings of the Hazara miners.
Balochistan Governor Amanullah Yasinzai, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, federal ministers Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Syed Ali Zaidi, Ali Amin Gandapur, Special Assistant to the PM Zulfi Bukhari and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri attended the meeting.
Provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, Commander of Southern Command Lt-Gen Sarfaraz Ali, Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Butt, Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Fazeel Asghar and senior civil and military officers were also present.
Following the success of talks, Ali Zaidi had told media that the officials responsible for the security lapse had already been suspended, and a joint investigation team (JIT) had been formed to probe the incident. Chief Minister Jam Kamal thanked the bereaved families for accepting their request for the burial of the bodies. Following the successful talks and end of the Quetta sit-in, the Majlis-e-Wehdat-e-Muslimeen and other organisations holding sit-ins at several major cities and towns also ended their protest.
Authorities promised the arrest of the attackers, payment of compensation to the bereaved families and better security for the Hazaras. “The provincial government will form a joint investigation team to recommend action against those found guilty of negligence leading to the incident,” said the agreement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The deal also called for setting up a high-level commission headed by Balochistan’s home minister to investigate attacks against the Hazara community in the past 22 years.