Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Friday slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan for not visiting the Shia Hazaras protesting against the killing of coal miners in Balochistan and for suggesting that the demonstrators were "blackmailing" the premier.
Speaking at a press conference in Karachi, Maryam said Khan had admitted today that he was not going to Quetta because of his ego and stubbornness, reported Dawn.
"The nation wants to know what was the problem which prevented you from going and putting your hand on their heads. If this was due to obedience (tabedari), then the nation wants to know is obedience more important than the people's lives?" she said.
"If this is insensitivity and ruthlessness then tell the nation so we know not to look towards you in crisis and [know that] you won't come and call innocents blackmailers," added the PML-N leader.Maryam terming Khan's remarks 'devoid of humanity', adding that it was a `great failure` on the part of the government that the Hazaras, who were a vulnerable population and had been repeatedly targeted in the past again, became victim to a terrorism incident.
"When I asked them what are your demands, they said we have no demands, we only want the [prime minister] to come here and cover our wounds and reassure us that such events won`t happen again," she mentioned.
She further alleged that the Prime Minister had "time to watch dramas and play with dogs and soak the sun in huge lawns but did not have the time to partake in the pain and grief of the Hazara community". She also appealed to the Hazaras to bury their loved ones, telling them "the person you have kept hopes from has no heart in his chest".
Earlier today, the prime minister was widely criticised on social media when, amidst countrywide protests and rising political pressure, he suggested that the protesters were "blackmailing" him by refusing to bury their loved ones until he visits them, Dawn reported.
"We have accepted all of their demands. [But] one of their demands is that the dead will be buried when the premier visits. I have sent them a message that when all of your demands have been accepted [...] you don`t blackmail the prime minister of any country like this," Khan said on Friday while speaking at an event here.
On Sunday, unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine in Machh town near Quetta, pulling out ethnic Hazaras, members of Pakistan`s Shia minority community, from their homes and opening fire on them.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the deadly attack, protests erupted in the region with the kin of the victims refusing to bury the dead until the government meets their demands.
The protestors have held several rounds of negotiations with members of Khan`s cabinet, including Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, but to no avail.
The National Commission on Human Rights has estimated that more than 2,000 Hazaras - adherents of the minority Shia Muslim sect, and easily targeted due to their distinctive facial features - have been killed in targeted attacks since 2004, Al Jazeera reported.
They have been subject to targeted shootings and mass bomb and suicide attacks, particularly in Quetta, where the majority of the country`s estimated half a million Hazaras reside.