PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari spoke at length to the Hazara community in Quetta on Thursday, condoling the deaths of their brethren who were brutally killed by terrorists five days ago.
Ten colliers were killed and four others were seriously injured on Sunday after armed men attacked them at a coal field in Balochistan’s Bolan district.
Bilawal deplored the state’s failure to implement the National Action Plan for deterrence of such crimes and how every time one comes to visit the community, it is because such an incident has occurred.
“Pakistan is a country where even the bodies of our deceased loved ones have to protest (for their rights). We live in a land where everything is expensive — gas, electricity and food — but the blood of our labourers comes cheap,” said the PPP chairman.
His remarks came as a protest against the killings in Quetta entered the fifth day, with the heirs of the deceased refusing to bury them until Prime Minister Imran Khan comes and visits them. The premier has told the Hazara community he is cognisant of their suffering and demands and promised he will come and visit them “very soon”, asking them to not delay burying their dead.
Bilawal said that since 1999, 2,000 Hazaras have died “but not even one family was provided justice”.
He recalled a past occasion where a protest by the community with 100 bodies took place, and when demands were made. “Our government folded and then a new government came. And now again, another government has come and again you are protesting. And you have only one demand: that you be allowed to live.”
He said that this sole demand is being echoed across Pakistan, on the streets of Karachi, Islamabad and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and all the supporters and well-wishers of the Hazara continue to stand by them.
“I can only promise you, that I, too, belong to a family of martyrs. We, too, have been unable to get justice. I promise you, the way we work day and night to ask for justice, you too are our brethren […] till the day I die, and till I continue to serve the people, it will be my effort to (secure the lives of all our people).”
Bilawal said he appeals to the state to look to the needs of the people “who are the ones who love Pakistan the most”.
“If you cannot provide these people justice, then who will we provide justice to? What will we tell the world? That we cannot guarantee the right to life here?”
Bilawal said it is the state’s foremost duty to guarantee the protection of the citizens’ lives and then it can look to employment and economic progress. He said, even in these areas, the Hazaras suffer injustice.
“But we will not speak about those issues. We only demand justice and the right to live.”
“You promised to eradicate terrorism […] and if today the terrorists can not only attack us, but spread hate also, then our National Action Plan has failed.
“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.
He said the state will have to begin with these people, and provide them safety and justice.
“We support all your demands and promise to you that in this injustice and oppression you are facing, the PPP will always stand by you, and soon we will also share in your happiness,” Bilawal said.
The coal miners, according to police, were taken to nearby mountains where they were shot.
They were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday as they slept near a remote coal mine in the southwestern mountainous Machh area — 60 kilometres southeast of Quetta city, local government official Abid Saleem said.
Security officials who did not want to be named told AFP the attackers first separated the miners before tying their hands and feet and taking them into the hills to kill them.
Officials on Monday clarified ten people had died in the attack, revising a previous death toll of 11, AFP reported.
The militant group Daesh claimed the attack, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors militant activities worldwide.