Machh (Balochistan) [Pakistan], January 7 (ANI): Pakistan opposition leaders Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maryam Nawaz met members of Shia Hazara community who have been protesting against the killing of 11 coal miners in Machh town of Balochistan.
Bilawal and Maryam, who are part of an 11-party anti-government alliance, addressed the protesters along with other political leaders including Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Dawn reported.
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 as Hazaras have long faced persecution for their faith. Following the deadly attack, protests erupted in the region with the kin of the victims refusing to bury their dead until the government meets their demands.
The community has been staging a protest in Quetta from last four days to protest the miners' killing.
One of their demands is the ouster of the provincial government, which is trying to resolve the matter through talks.
Bilawal said in his speech that whenever he visited Quetta, it was not to celebrate or for political reasons but to condole with Hazaras who were frequently targeted in terrorism incidents, Dawn reported.
"Pakistan is a country where even our martyred and the dead have to protest," he said, adding that although basic utilities like gas and electricity had become expensive in the country, "but the people's blood is cheap".
"The blood of our labourers is cheap, and that of political workers, police officers, lawyers, residents and the Hazara community."
The PPP chairperson said nearly 2,000 Hazaras had been killed since 1998, but "not one of them" had gotten justice, while the Hazaras' demand of "let us live" was resounding throughout the country.
"I too belong to a family of martyrs. We too have not been able to get our martyrs justice till date, like you. I promise you, the way we struggle day and night to get justice for our martyrs, we will struggle for our poor people's right to live till the day we do politics.
"What kind of justice is this where you are killed by [identification through] ID cards while doing labour or going to school? What kind of justice is this where the families of the martyred have to repeatedly protest along with their coffins?" Bilawal asked.
While condoling with the grieving protesters, Maryam said she was aware that the Hazara population in Quetta "has been limited to a two-kilometre radius" and that they could neither freely earn their living nor move about freely in their schools and colleges.
"I am sad that you are calling for an insensitive man and he doesn't have the time to come here," she said while referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan. (ANI)