The absence of a healing touch

  • PM Khan and Hazara killings

On Friday mourners sat around 10 dead bodies of Hazara miners for the sixth day. Protests against the brutal killings and in sympathy with the Quetta mourners meanwhile spread outside Balochistan also. The protesters maintained that they would bury the dead only after the PM came to condole with the grieving families. The PM flatly refused to accept their demand, calling it an attempt at blackmail.

Daesh, which had been targeting the Shia community in Afghanistan for years, accepted responsibility for the Machh attack. The horrendous way the victims’ throats were slit elicited worldwide condemnation, including from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir. Inside the country, the PM and leaders of the opposition parties issued statements denouncing the horror. While hundreds of Hazaras gathered to condole with the families sitting near the coffins, no provincial minister cared to turn up on the first day, which was not only a violation of Balochistan’s time-honoured traditions, but was also bound to strengthen the perception of insecurity in the Hazara community. The next day the mourners said that now nothing short of a visit by the PM would provide them solace and confidence.

Had the PM turned up on the first day to console the mourners and assure them of the government’s determination to arrest the accused, the dead would have been buried and the protestors departed. The delay further strengthened the perception that the government did not care. It provided yet another opportunity to the opposition leaders to lambaste the government in their speeches on Thursday. What the protestors have wanted is a compassionate handling that would soothe them and help them wipe away their tears. The PM on the hand wants the affected families to take the compensation and go home. In case they still insist on a prior visit from him, this would constitute blackmailing in his eyes.

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The weather in Quetta goes below freezing point during the night. The families of miners have lost their sole breadwinners and badly need money. They might finally succumb to the pressure. But the treatment would leave a bad taste in their mouth that no Ehsaas Emergency Programme will wash away.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]
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