By Abdullah Zahid.
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Quetta to share grief and condole with Hazara minor community over the last week incident in which 10 miners were killed by the militants in Balochistan’s remote area.
PM Khan was accompanied by Balochistan Governor, Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and CM Baluchistan Jam Kamal. He met with the bereaved families of the Machh incident and expressed condolences on the loss of the precious lives in the incident.
Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan, Provincial Ministers and other high ranking officials received the Prime Minister at the airport.
PM Imran had on Friday clarified that he will not visit Quetta till the dead are buried. His statement that the prime minister can not be blackmailed drew sharp criticism from all mainstream religious and opposition parties, and enraged the mourners, some of who declared a hunger strike until death.
Meanwhile, the funeral prayers of the victims were offered in the Hazara Town. National Assembly Qasim Suri Deputy Speaker and Special Assistant to the PM Zulfi Bukhari, Provincial Home Minister Mir Zia Langove and other government officials and civil society leaders also attended the funeral prayers, alongside thousands of other attendees.
‘Quetta sit-in ends after government, protesters reach consensus’
It is pertinent to mention here that negotiations between the government team and protestors staging a sit-in in Quetta against the killing of 10 coal miners had succeeded.
Speaking to the media after talks with the protesters, the government’s chief negotiator, Ali Haider Zaidi, said that a written agreement had been struck between the Hazara community and the government for the first time.
According to the agreement, a copy of which is available with The Pakistan Daily, a high-level commission will investigate the incident and also investigate the outcomes of investigations of militant acts against the Shia Hazara community in the last 22 years.
The agreement says the commission will expedite the punishment/ execution of those arrested “in acts of terrorism” against the Hazara Shia community, and would “probe” into the community’s missing persons cases.
The government will provide Rs. 1.5 million ($9,360) as monetary compensation to the family of each slain person and “initiate process for job employment” to the next of kin of the slain.
The agreement also says that the government of Balochistan and other law enforcement agencies would chalk out a “comprehensive security strategy” for highways and for mines belonging to the Hazara Shia community.
Under the agreement, a special committee will be formed to address the grievances of the Hazara community in the issuance of national identity cards and passports.
‘The Machh massacre’
Gunmen abducted a group of coal miners and killed 11 on early Sunday, Pakistani officials said. The militant Islamic State (IS) group, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attack. The militant group has repeatedly targeted Pakistan’s minority Shias in recent years.
Relatives and residents started their protest on the same day, arranging the coffins on the Western Bypass on the outskirts of Quetta and refusing to bury them in a symbolic gesture until the Prime Minister personally assured them security and met their demands.
Protests in support of the community later spread to other parts of the country, including Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, where demonstrators blocked several important roads, disrupting traffic.
Soon after talks succeeded between the protesters and government, an announcement was made to end the protest in Quetta, while similar messages were played at gatherings in other cities as well.