There never was a government as callous and brutal in Pakistan as now. Never before did one province and that too the biggest, had to suffer so much of lawlessness under the very nose of its heavy weight law-enforcers. Ever since PTI under Imran Khan took over power in Balochistan, the province has seen a repeated catalogue of killing fields of innocent, law-abiding Shia minority.
Seven days ago, history repeated itself again when horrendous killers with the backing of their closeted sponsors in the expansive law and order set up let loose a reign of terror in Mach mines.
Prime Minister Imran Khan with his band and baja remained busy in cutting ceremonial tapes along with his bewigged Interior Minister while the bodies of the miners lay under the open skies in protest to wake up the Khan in his hashish state of mind.
The victim Hazara families mourned and unabated their grief with their demand that they would not bury their dead until and unless Prime Minister Imran Khan joins them in mourning. Khan, known for his stubbornness, refused to visit Quetta miners saying that he would not surrender to the blackmail of the aggrieved families. Indeed, that shows the Niazi trait of his family having earned notorious infamy by surrendering arms before the Indian army in 1971 war.
The aggrieved Families begin burial arrangements following Imran Khan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed hinted at his security concerns for delay in visit. As usual the age-old method of covering up brutal killings was adopted by the law enforcers.
They ordered a joint investigation to probe the conspiracy by the killer renegades. DC, DPO have been removed to form a JIT to probe cold blooded massacre. It is a matter of utmost shame that IK government wasted more than a week in accepting the demand of the mourners.
Bloody tragic incidents like that and that too repeated so frequently, one is reminded of a much similar incident in Karachi when Liaquat Ali Khan was the prime minister in 1950. It so happened that Pakistan’s national flag was flown lower than Indian at the Visa Consul of the Indian embassy in Gurumandir.
Being a national holiday, Pakistanis got together at the site and in their utmost anger became violent; police had to resort to firing to control the crowd. Karachi’s then administrator Syed Hashim Raza advised Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to ignore the incident while the popular rage continued to flare up.
Liaquat Ali Khan, being a populist prime minister took the initiative in his hands. He climbed over a police jeep and addressed the violent crowd through a public speaker, made an emotional speech. “Not one or two, we can sacrifice many for the honour of our national flag.” In no time the masses who were in a violent mood turned supportive of Liaquat, raised slogans in his favour and peacefully dispersed.”
Indeed, that’s the way populist leaders handle a situation and not a selected prime minister like Imran Khan who shivers in his trousers in getting to meet the angry people.
The announcement that ended the sit-in came from the Shuhada Action Committee and Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen representatives, as federal cabinet members messrs Ali Zaidi and Zulfi Bukhari along with CM Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri assured the mourners that the prime minister was ready to visit them anytime ‘soon’ and meet all their demands but would not surrender to their blackmail.
These functionaries of IK regime conveyed an assurance that to the grief struck families that prime minister IK, Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa were expected to visit Quetta on Saturday—an assurance that nobody believes. It somehow ended the weeklong deadlock between the protesters and the government over the prime minister’s obduracy not to visit the mourning families until their burial.
The situation had worsened earlier in the day when PM Khan added insult to injury when at an event in Islamabad he had remarked that the prime minister could not be ‘blackmailed’ by the protests. He said visiting Quetta before burial would set a precedent for anyone in future to blackmail the PM.
His arrogant remarks not only drew sharp criticism from almost all religious and opposition parties but also enraged the mourners, some of whom decided to go on a hunger strike until death. Almost all mainstream religious parties, except the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, criticised Mr Khan for his “immature” statement and termed it his “stubbornness” while Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid in an attempt to pacify the situation told a presser that the reason for delay in Mr Khan’s visit and relevant information could not be disclosed at the moment and hinted at ‘security concerns’, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) gave a call for a countrywide protest asking party workers to join the sit-in of the Hazara community.
According to sources this is nothing but a blatant ruse by Sheikh Rasheed to cover up his government’s failure and its megalomaniac attitude towards the masses.
IK has promised that he would visit the Hazara community the day they would bury the slain victims. He said if he visited Quetta before burial, it would set a precedent and then he might be blackmailed by anyone in future too.
And as usual the PM claimed that he had informed the cabinet about the Indian conspiracy and charged that India was trying its level best to spread chaos in Pakistan notwithstanding his own role. “He praised his intelligence agencies for the fact that they thwarted so-called four major terrorist events. Despite this, a high-profile Sunni scholar was killed in Karachi […] with great difficulty we managed to quell the flames of a sectarian divide.”
Similarly, he claimed, soon after the Mach incident, he first sent his interior minister (who once he claimed he would have his services as a “chaprassi” and then two federal ministers — Ali Haider Zaidi and Zulfi Bukhari — to speak with the mourners to try to assure them of the government support.
These remarks by the the prime minister came as the Shia Hazara community supported by the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) continued their protest in different parts of the country, including Sindh, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan, refusing to bury those massacred the last weekend. On Jan 3, armed attackers had slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine in Balochistan’s Mach coalfield area, filming the entire incident and later posting it online. The attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh.
After the PM’s statement, the quixotic interior minister Sheikh Rashid told the media that intelligence reports suggested that Indian spy agency RAW was behind the fresh wave of terrorism and there were threats for Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, and Peshawar from the enemy continuously conspiring to destabilise Pakistan. “Twenty political personalities, including religious figures, were also under threat and they had been informed about it,” he added.
Rightly calling the prime minister ‘Bayhis’ (insensitive) Khan, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on Friday sought the establishment’s take on the worsening situation after she said Imran Khan and his government spoiled all the efforts being made to deal with the human crisis amid widening protests against the targeted killing of Shia Hazara people and asked if he was the only soghaat (gift) they could find among the 220 million Pakistanis.
Even the security officials, who were also engaged in talks with the protesting Shia Hazaras and were likely to reach an agreement, would have been embarrassed by Mr Khan’s fresh statement describing their sit-in and the visit of opposition leaders for showing solidarity with the families as ‘blackmailing’, she said. “Are they blackmailers?” questioned Ms Nawaz while showing photos of the protesting families during a press conference at the residence of senior party leader Miftah Ismail. “I can only pray for such an arrogant, ruthless and egoistic man. This Bayhis Khan has once again proved his selection wrong. And today I question the selectors if that is the only soghat among the 220 million people they could find. If the arrogance has any face today, it’s Imran Khan.”
During a few-hour stopover in Karachi after landing from Quetta in the afternoon to catch the connecting flight to Lahore, Ms Nawaz used the opportunity to address the media where she forcefully denied taking any question about the “politics” and the affair of 10-party opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) calling her presser “solely” to show solidarity with the Shia Hazara community and condemn the rulers for their “irresponsible and inhuman approach”.
“Does our army know how much damage he [PM Imran Khan] has done to this country?” she said in her brief address before taking the questions from reporters. “Does our army know what his incompetence is costing to every segment of the society and everything of national value? Do the selectors know how much the country is suffering after his policies have cost us some of our best friends and allies in the world? The question is absolutely justified for the selectors.”
Accompanied by senior party leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Sindh leadership of the party including Nasiruddin Mahmood and Khawaja Tariq Nazir, Ms Nawaz appealed to the families of the victims and protesting Shia Hazara community to bury their loved ones instead of waiting for the prime minister’s visit. She sounded furious when asked about the PM’s stance for not visiting Quetta. “Is he [PM Imran Khan] competing himself with the bodies,” she replied to a question. “We also had security issues. We were not given security clearance but we decided to go and meet the families. The ruler of a country is always like the guardian of a family. And the guardian in such testing times always comes forward to console the victims’ families, giving them courage to move on, but here the nation awaits an answer as to what has been preventing him from meeting—IK is probably scared of the wrath of the aggrieved.
Last but not the least, in view of the repeated killing fields in Quetta where Shia Hazaras as killed with utmost impunity—there are well informed elements in Balochistan who feel that the law enforcers are in hand and glove with the terrorists as they are the main source of illicit trade under the nose of the law enforcers and security agencies.