By SANKAR RAY :
The Machh massacre victims’ families were staging a protest on Quetta’s Western Bypass braving freezing temperatures, demanding justice. All this aggravated the schism inside the ruling stalwarts of PTI. Chan had implicitly sympathised with the angry Hazaras when they refused to bury the remains of the miners until Khan visited them.
THE resignation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi’s spokesman Nadir Afzal Chan on Thursday morning over differences on the mode of retaliative strategy in tackling the virulent reaction over the massacre of 11 coal miners of Hazara community in Machh town of Bolan district, about 60 km south-eastward from Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan on January 3, is a recognition of growing indignation of the Shia minority community. Once again, the Baloch ethnic people’s loss of faith in the State is open.
There is a basis in the allegations and insinuations that the attackers belong to groups that were nurtured by the State. In evidence is occasional cooperation between Jaish and Lashkar-eJhangvi terrorist cadres. Some unidentified gunmen stormed into a coal mine on the fateful day, pulled out the innocent ethnic Hazaras and sprayed bullets at them indiscriminately. The indignation was expected as the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killings. The assassins belong to a regional franchise of the Da’ish terrorist group, operating out of Afghanistan’s lawless border regions. According to the PM, a handful group of 35-40 people are spreading terror in Pakistan. Once linked to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi it is now a part of Da’ish.
Chan kept himself at bay after the bloody incident, maintaining a low profile, obviously to avoid embarrassment of defending the PTI regime. But he couldn’t endorse the PM’s threat of sacking ministers who criticised his equivocal position confronting the post-massacre situation. The weeklong delay in reaching out to the next of kin of victims is believed to have conscientiously forced Chan to slap his quit notice to the PTI supremo. Chan belonged to the Pakistan Peoples’ Party on whose ticket he was elected to the National Assembly before the PTI had formed the federal ministry.
The Machh massacre victims’ families were staging a protest on Quetta’s Western Bypass braving freezing temperatures, demanding justice. All this aggravated the schism inside the ruling stalwarts of PTI. Chan had implicitly sympathised with the angry Hazaras when they refused to bury the remains of the miners until Khan visited them The massacre evoked national resentment. Funeral prayers for the slain coal miners were held last week after sit-in protestation by the Shia Hazaras in the provincial capital. The miners were laid to rest in the Hazara Town graveyard where a large number of people gathered. Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen leader Allama Raja Nasir Abbas and other Hazara leaders were present at the cemetery.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and special assistant to the PM Zulfi Bukhari, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langau, provincial minister Mir Arif Jan Mohammad and other Government officials also attended the funeral prayers. All this reminds the Baloch people of terrorist atrocity in February 2013, killing 90 injuring scores in Quetta. The Premier failed to read the sentiment of sit-in protesters and reacted strangely – a proof of lack of tactical sense. He even accused the bereaved members of ‘blackmailing’ him. This had obviously enraged the spokesman The gravity of what resembled a genocide was felt by the Pak army high command. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa met the families of Machh incident victims followed by a statement by the military’s public relations wing, the Inter Services Public Relations, “Balochistan is in sharp focus of our enemies due to its strategic potential, Balochistan is the future of Pakistan and progress and prosperity of the province is progress of the country,” COAS said.
He spent time with the grief-stricken family members of Mach incident victims and assured them that perpetrators of this heinous incident would be brought to justice and blood of the martyrs will not go waste. However, COAS did not leave the opportunity of discovering India’s hand (read Research & Analysis Wing) claiming that the Intelligence reports “strongly suggest that India wants to create unrest in Pakistan by attacking the religious scholars of different sects.” Islamabad is inadequately prepared to grapple with the grim Baloch realities. The Hazara community is a habitual target of sectarian terrorists especially the elements of Jaish-e-Mohammed, breaking away from the Harkatul Mujahideen. The premier once more assured the Hazara community of full protection and tracking down the killers of January 3 killings. He added that the federal and provincial Governments would play their part in this regard. He also announced that a special cell would be set up in the security forces to ensure the protection of the community. But Balochs have an increasing feel of insecurity. Many of them fear, going by past experience, that a blanket offensive in Balochistan province in the name of counter-terrorism might aggravate the already prevailing fear psychosis, created by the Pak Army facing the Baloch liberation struggle. (IPA)