‘Pakistan is a country where even dead have to protest for justice’
Bilawal says electricity is expensive but blood is cheap | Maryam says state has failed to protect its citizens
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz have met leaders of the Hazara community in Quetta and expressed their heartfelt condolences over the tragic Machh coalmine massacre, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Bilawal and Maryam arrived at the site where members of the Hazara community have been protesting the killing of 11 coalminers for the last five consecutive days. Bilawal and Maryam also addressed the protesters along with other political leaders including Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Addressing the protest gathering, Bilawal regretted that not a single person had been brought to justice in connection with the killings of Hazara people so far. He said he had come to Quetta to share with the mourners their grief.
Bilawal said a similar incident had taken place in Balochistan when PPP was in power, and the PPP government had dismissed the provincial government. He said it was sad that Pakistan was the only country where relatives and the martyrs himself had to protest for justice.
He said he himself belonged to a family of martyrs. He assured the mourners that the entire country stood by them.
He said it was unfortunate that those who were butchered were poor miners who were out to earn livelihood for their families. “They were sons, brothers and fathers who were shot dead away from their homes,” he lamented.
Bilawal said protecting its citizens was state’s responsibility.
PPP chairman said such incidents of terror made a mockery of the government’s tall claims that it was fighting against the terrorists. “If terrorists still have the ability to target their victims at will, then the National Action Plan has failed to produce the desired results,” he commented.
He said he demanded justice for the victims. “Let people of the Hazara community live,” he implored.
PPP chairman said regardless of the fact that RAW or any other agency of an enemy country had masterminded the attack, the very fact that enemy had succeeded in its designs to instil fear in the hearts of people, was government’s failure.
Bilawal said whenever he visited the Balochistan capital, it was not to celebrate or for political reasons, but to condole with Hazaras who were frequently targeted in terrorist incidents. "Pakistan is a country where even our martyred and the dead have to protest," he said, adding that although basic utilities like gas and electricity had become expensive in the country, "but the people's blood is cheap".
"The blood of our labourers is cheap, and that of political workers, police officers, lawyers, residents and the Hazara community."
Bilawal said nearly 2,000 Hazaras had been killed since 1998, but "not one of them" had gotten justice. Noting that attacks against the community have continued during the tenures of subsequent governments, the PPP leader said the Hazaras' demand of "let us live" was resounding throughout the country.
"I too belong to a family of martyrs. We too have not been able to get our martyrs justice till date, like you. I promise you, the way we struggle day and night to get justice for our martyrs, we will struggle for our poor people's right to live till the day we do politics.
"What kind of justice is this where you are killed by seeing ID cards while doing labour or going to school? What kind of justice is this where the families of the martyred have to repeatedly protest along with their coffins?" Bilawal asked.
He said a state could not call itself a state until it ensured the security of life for its oppressed segments.
Bilawal said the Hazaras also faced discrimination when it came to government jobs and even educational institutions. "But we are not focusing on those issues, we only demand justice and the right to live," he emphasised.
"On behalf of the PPP, we demand from the state that you had promised to implement the National Action Plan, and promised the children of APS (Army Public School Peshawar) to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan, and if today not only can terrorists launch attacks, but extremists can spread extremism, raise slogans of 'Kafir! Kafir' and spread hate, then the NAP has failed and terrorists backs' have not been broken."
Hazara protesters have been staging a sit-in at a highway near Quetta for the last five days and have refused to bury their dead. The protesters say they won’t bury the victims until Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives in Quetta and meets families of the slain coalminers.
The PML-N leader said they would not let the government hide its failure and insensitivity. "The state is responsible for protecting its people," she said. "I understand that this mother (state) has not protected you."
"They do not have the freedom to earn their livelihoods, they are not free to move," she said.
The PML-N leader said more than 2,000 Hazara people had been martyred in terrorist attacks so far. She said she didn't have words to express herself.
Maryam jibed at Prime Minister Imran Khan for not having come to the region yet. “I ask Imran Khan, these bodies that lie here, is your ego greater than these?” she asked.
Maryam rhetorically asked if PM Imran had not come in fear of criticism, and advised him to come to share in the grief.
“I salute you all. You have more than 2,000 people you have lost. Each one of you is an open book, telling the story of such pain and sorrow,” she said.
Maryam demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan to come to Quetta and show compassion to the Hazara community. She said the Hazaras should have the same sense of safety as other citizens of the state and it was the Prime Minister’s responsibility to share their grief.
She said that she had brought special wishes from Nawaz Sharif and that the whole nation stands with them at this difficult time. The PML-N leader said that poor miners were slaughtered in Machh, the Hazara community has been restricted and no longer enjoys freedom of movement.
She slammed the Prime Minister for not visiting the community and said that he was more worried about the criticism he would face after coming here than his responsibility to console the grieving Hazaras.
Maryam said that she has been told that until the prime minister arrives, the protestors will not bury the bodies. “Is the ego of the Prime Minister more important than the martyrs”, she asked.
She said the Prime Minister will have to come and agree to the protesters’ fair demands.