Prime Minister Imran Khan finally met with families mourning the deaths of 10 coal miners who were massacred by terrorists six days ago.
The meeting took place on Saturday at Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University.
PM Imran Khan extended his heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in the tragic incident.
The premier speaking to the families said that he had visited the community in the past as well and that he was aware of the tragedies that the community had been suffering.
"When the war on terror was going on, and people were afraid to visit your Imam Barghas, I visited your community even then," he said.
The premier said that he was aware of the sectarian group that targeted the Hazara community and that the last time that he had visited the place and taken their name, the group had threatened him as well.
"I understand all of your issues; I might be the only politician who understands your 20-year-old [struggle]," he said.
The prime minister said that the intelligence agencies had informed the government last March that India wanted to spread sectarian violence in Pakistan by killing Shia and Sunni scholars.
Lauding the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he said that the agency had apprehended culprits and averted several attacks that could have led to sectarian violence.
"When this incident took place, I had no doubt that it was a part of a larger game — it was a step towards spreading violence in the country," he said.
The prime minister said that "keeping the situation in mind, I had first sent the interior minister your way".
"The first thing that we had to do was [console] the families who endured heartbreaking setback — Amna bibi, whose five brothers were martyred and Mohammad Sadiq, a brother of six sisters was also martyred."
"That is why I had sent the interior minister first so that we could assure the families that we would not abandon them."
"The second thing I wanted to convey to the Hazara community was that we will [hunt down the people involved in the attack]," he said, adding that he was in constant contact with the intelligence agencies in this regard.
"These are 35-40 people who have spread terror in the country; in the past they were known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and now they are a part of the extremist group Daesh," the prime minister said.
"Several of the terrorists have been killed; however, 35-40 of them are left, and now a complete programme is in the works, including a security forces' cell whose only responsibility will be to ensure your (Hazara community's) safety and hunt down those responsible," he said.
He said he aimed to do two things — assure the aggrieved families and then the community — that the federal government would ensure their safety.
The prime minister, speaking about his delay in visiting them, said that a premier has a lot of matters to deal with as compared to the common man. "When I wasn't prime minister, I had visited you."
"Nobody can guarantee that an unfortunate incident won't take place in the country," he said, adding: "That is why I had asked your community to bury the deceased, and then I would visit you."
"But when you keep conditions, then it becomes a precedent. Today Imran Khan is the prime minister, tomorrow someone else will be," he noted.
The premier said that he wants to categorically state that the whole while he was "completely" in touch with his ministers and the security forces and sought updates on the sit-in.
"I want to say again, not only I, but the whole country was sharing your sorrow and pain."
He thanked the families for listening to the government and going ahead with the burial.
"The whole nation will continue to stand with you, as will the provincial and federal governments, the security forces; I came here to tell you that we will take full care of these children and our sisters."
The prime minister, sharing his vision, said that he aims not only to bring people of the country together, but also bring closer the Muslim states, to end this "divide and rule" philosophy. "I have tried to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia closer."
"We will try our utmost to root out this element that creates divide in our country and spreads hatred," he said.
Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen leader Agha Raza said that during his visit, the people had registered their protest over the use of the word "blackmail" and how is it "unbecoming of a prime minister".
The prime minister clarified that he used the word "blackmail" for the Pakistan Democratic Movement leaders, said Raza.
Raza said that the prime minister has assured the community that the agreement signed will be fulfilled.
Late last night, much to the relief of citizens across Pakistan that had been waiting to see a speedy redressal of the grievances of the Hazara community, it was announced that the bodies of the 10 coal miners that were awaiting burial as their heirs staged a sit-in, will be buried.
Deputy Speaker National Assembly Qasim Suri said that "right after the burial", PM Imran Khan will leave for Quetta and will be accompanied by Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Slain coal miners to be buried as talks in Quetta between govt, protesters succeed
The protesters had refused to bury their loved ones until PM Imran Khan comes to Quetta and meets them. The premier, during a ceremony yesterday to launch Special Technology Zones Authority in Islamabad, said: "One does not blackmail the prime minister of any country this way."
He urged the Hazara community to not delay burying their loved ones. "I have told them that if they bury the victims today, I will go to Quetta today. However, their demand to bury their relatives only if I visit them is not appropriate and not acceptable," he said.
Ready to visit Quetta today, but slain miners need to be buried first, PM says
The burial took place today morning after funeral prayers led by MWM's Allama Hashim Mousavi.
The miners were laid to rest in the Hazara Town graveyard.
Hazaras bury slain coal miners after week-long Quetta sit-in
Suri, along with 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.
PM Imran Khan after his arrival in Quetta today morning met Governor Balochistan Amanullah Khan Yasinzai and Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan.
During the premier's meeting with Balochistan's top officials, the province's security situation, as well as the circumstances that arose from the killings, were discussed.
The prime minister also chaired a meeting to discuss with the federal and provincial leadership the overall security situation of the province.
Besides the Balochistan governor and chief minister, federal ministers Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Syed Ali Zaidi, Ali Amin Gandapur, special assistant Zulfiqar Bukhari and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri attended the meeting.
Provincial Interior Minister Ziaullah Langau, Commander of Southern Command Lt General Sarfaraz Ali, Inspector General of Police Balochsitan Mohsin Hassan Butt, Chief Secretary Capt (Retd) Fazeel Asghar and senior civil and military officers were also present.
Moreover, Commander of Southern Command Lt General Sarfaraz Ali was present during the meeting.
PM Imran Khan was accompanied by Interior Minister Shaikh Rasheed and other federal ministers.
Ten colliers were killed and four others were seriously injured on January 3 (Sunday) after armed men attacked them at a coal field in Balochistan's Bolan district.
The coal miners, according to police, were taken to nearby mountains where they were shot.
According to AFP, the 10 miners were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday as they slept near the 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. Most were shot, however, some were beheaded, said officials who did not want to be named.
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.
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