QUETTA: Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Quetta on Thursday on a day long visit. COAS was given detailed security brief at HQ Southern Command, met families of victims of Mach incident and also interacted with a large gathering of Hazara community.
At HQ Southern Command, COAS was apprised about prevailing security challenges in the province and the measures taken, including border management along Pak- Afghan and Pak-Iran Border. COAS also spent time with the bereaved families of Mach incident victims and shared their grief. COAS assured them that perpetrators of this heinous incident shall be brought to justice and blood of the martyrs will not go waste.
Later, COAS addressed the garrison officers. COAS appreciated their preparedness and efforts for ensuring peace and stability in the province despite difficulties of terrain and distances involved. Balochistan is in sharp focus of our enemies due to its strategic potential, COAS remarked. Balochistan is the future of Pakistan and progress and prosperity of the province is progress of the country, COAS reiterated. The disruptive efforts by hostile forces won’t be allowed to succeed, COAS emphasised. Security, stability and prosperity of Balochistan shall be pursued/ ensured to the hilt, COAS concluded.
Earlier, on arrival at Quetta, COAS was received by Lieutenant General Sarfraz Ali, Commander Southern Command.
On January 3, 11 miners belonging to the Shia Hazara community were brutally massacred in the Mach coalfield area. Armed assailants had entered their residential compound early in the morning where they were sleeping, and blindfolded and trussed them up before executing them. The militant Islamic State (IS) group, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Relatives and residents started a protest against the killings on the same day, arranging the miners’ coffins on the Western Bypass on the outskirts of Quetta and refusing to bury them in a symbolic gesture until the prime minister’s visit and assurance of protection.
The protests later spread to other parts of the country, including Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, where demonstrators blocked several important roads, disrupting traffic.
After a deadlock lasting for nearly a week, talks succeeded between the protesters and the government, leading to the end of the protests and burial of the miners on Saturday.