Won’t be blackmailed into visiting Hazara mourning slain kin, says defiant Pak PM
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he will not be “blackmailed” into flying to Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, to meet Hazara protesters who are yet to bury the 11 coal miners killed in a terror attack claimed by Islamic State on January 3.
Khan said that he would visit the families only after the slain miners have been buried.
“We can’t do this if you set a condition for the burial of the dead,” he told journalists while speaking at a conference in Islamabad on Friday . “If you bury them today, then I will take a plane and come to meet you today.”
Khan said he sent three members of his cabinet to meet the protesters to assure them that the state will take care of them and compensate them for the loss of their loved ones. However, instead of soothing nerves, the visit of the three ministers angered members of the Shia Hazara community.
Special advisor Zulfikar Bokhari had asked the protestors what benefit they would get if the Pakistan PM came to visit them.
Despite calls since January 3 and nationwide protests by members of the Hazara community, the Pakistan PM has refused to visit the protesting families while opposition leaders have visited the protesters, including PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz.
The massacre in Machh coal mine “is part of the conspiracy that I have been speaking about since March,” Imran Khan told the media, adding, “India is trying to spread sectarian violence in Pakistan.”
However, interior minister Shaikh Rasheed told a media briefing on Friday that it was still not clear who was behind the attack. “It could be Daesh [Islamic State], it could be any outfit,” he told journalists.
He said the country’s intelligence agencies are still to come up with their findings.
When asked about the PM’s reluctance to visit Quetta, the interior minister hinted that there were security concerns about his travel to the Balochistan provincial capital.
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