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Talks failed

Protests of mourners of slain coal miners continued in Quetta since Sunday, even minus 10 temperature could not deter grieving Hazara community, Imran Khan sent representatives but himself did not reach

Nation special report

QUETTA: The grieving Hazara community and Prime Minister Imran Khan both are look strict to their stand as thousands of mourners are sitting next to the dead bodies of their loved one who had been slaughtered on Sunday morning by militants. And at the other end, Imran Khan still not reached Quetta to pacify and to condole the grieved families.

Islamabad sources said that Imran Khan has assured that he would visit them “very soon”, the Shia Hazara community continued to protest for a fifth straight day on Thursday, refusing to bury those who were brutally killed over the weekend in the province’s Mach area.

QUETTA: Relatives and other Hazara community members sitting along with the dead bodies of coal minters during sit-in in Quetta on Thursday, the fifth day of their protest.

Sources said the prime minister has decided to visit Quetta “soon” to express solidarity with the members of the community but the date and time of his visit are “being kept secret due to security concerns”.

On Sunday, armed attackers 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.

Since then, thousands of Hazaras have staged a protest along with coffins containing the miners’ bodies in the western bypass area in Quetta, while members of their community have also held protests in Karachi.

Despite extremely harsh weather as the mercury drops to below freezing point, the mourners, including women and children, have refused to leave until the premier meets them and the killers are brought to justice.

A day earlier, the prime minister, in a series of tweets, said that he was aware of the Shia Hazara community’s “suffering & their demands”, adding that the government was taking steps to prevent such attacks in the future and knew that “our neighbour is instigating this sectarian terrorism.”

“I share your pain and have come to you before also to stand with you in your time of suffering. I will come again very soon to offer prayers and condole with all the families personally,” he said while addressing the mourning Hazaras.

“I will never betray my people’s trust. Please bury your loved ones so their souls find peace,” the prime minister said.

Women, children and elderly persons are present in the sit-in. The protesters have vowed that their demonstration will continue until Prime Minister Imran Khans arrival, and dialogue will now only be held with the premier.

All previous attempts by the federal and provincial government to persuade the protesting Hazara community members to call off sit-in and bury their loved ones have been failed.

Earlier on Wednesday, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfi Bukhari met the protesting families of miners and persuade them to call off sit-in. However, the protesters do not seem willing to end the protest and vowed to continue their sit-in until Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives in Quetta.

Addressing a press conference along with Ali Zaidi and Zulfi Bukhari, Jam Kamal urged the protestors to not make burial of slain coal miners conditional with arrival of PM Imran Khan.

He said that government worked hard in past 2.5 years to establish sense of brotherhood in the province and law and order situation remained relatively better in Balochistan; however, enemies of country dont like this unity between people and want to spread unrest in the country.

Agha Raza, one of the organizers of the sit-in said that the sit-in was not organized by anyone, adding, We are the voice of the people and the sit-in was called at the request of the families of the slain miners.

He said that the families of slain miners were voluntarily sitting with the bodies and vowed to continue their sit-in until Prime Minister Imran Khan visits Quetta and make an announcement.

Maryam Nawaz

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice-president Maryam Nawaz 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.

QUETTA: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (Chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party) and Maryam Nawaz (Vice President, PML-N) along with others offer Fateha at the protest sit-in in Quetta on Thursday)

The PML-N leader talked to media before departing for Quetta to express solidarity with the families of the martyrs of the Hazara community, and said it is a national tragedy over which politics cannot be done. The PM should have visited and condoled with the families who have staged a sit-in in extreme winter after losing their loved ones.

Maryam Nawaz said, the state and the prime minister play the roles of a mother and a father respectively but I am disappointed that Imran Khan does not care about the nation. I am going to Quetta on PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharifs directions. It is our duty to stand with the families of the slain miners after the heart-wrenching Machh incident.