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PM Imran Khan, not Hazara mourners, is the blackmailer

After committing a “strategic mistake”, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reckless comments have generated a controversy on social media. Was the premier’s choice of words poor?

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Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing severe backlash on social media after his “controversial” and “insensitive” comments about the Hazara mourners in Balochistan. Speaking at the launching ceremony of the Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad, he said that “I have sent them a message that when all of your demands have been accepted […] you don’t blackmail the prime minister of any country like this”.

The premier is of the view that if he fulfills the demand of the mourners then there may be a trend across the country. “Anyone will blackmail the prime minister then,” he said, adding that this included a “band of crooks” in apparent reference to the Pakistan Democratic Movement. “This blackmail has also been ongoing for two-and-a-half years.”

The prime minister said that the protesters were informed that he will visit once they bury those slain in the attack. “I am using this platform to say that if you bury them today, I will go to Quetta to meet the families of the deceased.

“This should be clear. All of your demands have been met but you can’t impose a condition which has [no logic]. So first, bury the dead. If you do it today then I guarantee you that I will come to Quetta today.”

PM Imran’s remarks come as Balochistan’s Shia Hazara community continues its protest for the sixth straight day on Friday, refusing to bury those who were brutally killed over the weekend.

On Sunday, armed attackers had slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine site in Balochistan’s Mach coalfield area, filming the entire incident and later posting it online. The gruesome attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

Notably, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-president Maryam Nawaz has on Thursday said that the Hazara community is looking towards Prime Minister Imran Khan for fulfillment of their demands but the premier is “apathetic towards them [Hazara mourners]”.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari  on Thursday said that the state has failed if foreign elements succeeded in carrying out the Machh attack in Balochistan in which terrorists slaughtered ten coal miners. “We do not want to hear that foreign elements are involved. It is our state’s failure if they succeed to murder our citizens like this,” the PPP chairman said.

The premier has been slammed for apparently poor selection of words. An official who works in the Development Sector strongly reacted to the premier’s remarks. “What is new in the behavior that Imran Khan has shown other than that it is way too much than what has been the attitude towards minorities, sects, ethnicities and other victims. Victim shaming had been the norm rather than the exception. Finding faults with the Victims is an entrenched behavior,” he told GVS.

“The basic question considered in Pakistan seems to be to judge whether the victims are expendables or not.  In this particular case of Hazara, they tick all boxes for a perfect case of expendables. Everything flows from that assessment,” the official lamented.

Mehr Tarar, a senior journalist, wrote in a tweet: “The only blackmailer in this situation, IMO, is PM Khan who has mandated burial for his visit.”

Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a prominent journalist and political commentator, has argued in his latest Vlog that the premier’s team has committed a strategic mistake. “The Prime Minister should have visited the mourners even before they made a demand,” he said.

Dr. Pirzada also explained the overall background behind the rise of terror attacks in Pakistan and the involvement of the Indian spy agency, RAW. Notably, the federal government and Pakistan army have recently shared a dossier with the international community to explain how is India causing unrest in Pakistan. According to the senior officials, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is directly overseeing all the developments and monitoring an anti-China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cell.

There is a view in Islamabad that the enemy spy agencies must have a role in this incident in Balochistan which has the potential to unleash sectarian violence across the country.  

It is important to recall that in 2018, the Hazara community staged a sit-in. the Army Chief had to go to address their grievances. Gen Qamar Bajwa met with the Hazara leaders. Representatives of the protesters comprised then provincial Law Minister Syed Muhammad Agha Raza, religious scholars Allamas Juma Asadi and Hashim Mousavi, former National Assembly member Syed Nasir Ali Shah, Qayyum Changezi, and Dawood Agha.

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