Lahore [Pakistan], January 9 (ANI): Pakistani Opposition leaders have lambasted Prime Minister Imran Khan on his remarks, in which he accused the family members of the Hazara community of blackmailing him after they refused to bury the mortal remains of 11 coal miners, who were killed in the Islamic States' attack.
In a tweet, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday hit out at the incumbent Prime Minister calling him a stone-hearted man and said: "The man (Imran Khan) who has become prime minister with the blessings of a few generals can never feel the pain of the masses. The oppressed people of the Hazara community are waiting for the man who is calling them 'blackmailers'."
He added, "I would like to ask from those who have imposed this stone-hearted man on the nation whether they feel any regret now."
Sharif assured the Hazara community that the entire country stood with them at this time of crisis, according to Dawn.
Dawn further reported that a good number of PML-N workers joined the protest camps set up in different parts of the province by the Wahdatul Muslimeen to protest against the killings in Balochistan's Mach area and 'insensitive' comment by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb told Dawn that the PDM parties would join the protest of the Hazaras. She said taking this matter to the PDM forum was meant to express solidarity with the Hazara community and seek justice for it.
Since the attack, the relatives of those killed placed their coffins on a highway in Quetta and refused to bury the dead until the killers were apprehended and Khan came to meet them.
Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sherry Rehman said in a tweet: "Prime Minister Imran Khan thinks that people asking him to fulfill their just demands are blackmailing him. He should apologise to the bereaved families for saying them (blackmailers) and go there right away. If Raja Parvez as PM can go why can't he?"
The "egoistic and ruthless" prime minister had set the worst example, she said and added that Khan's statement was an "insult to corpses of the slain coal miners."
Dawn reported further that PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari demanded an apology from Khan for calling the bereaved families of Hazara martyrs as blackmailers.
"Calling people in grief blackmailers represents the low mentality of Imran Khan. This statement of Imran Khan is height of insensitivity. He has shamed the entire Pakistani nation with his despicable personality. He should ask for an apology from the Hazara community and the nation," he demanded.
PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said 'egoistic' Imran Khan should be ashamed of his words. "Treating a grieving community with such disdain represents a sick mind. It seems that the selected PM Imran Khan has embarrassed his selectors as well. The selectors must be reviewing their choice," he said.
He said the entire nation was grieving and mourning the Mach tragedy but the egoistic person who suffered from an illusory perception of himself was calling the mournful community blackmailers. "Nothing could be more disgraceful than this narrative," Kundi said.
Braving the bone-chilling weather, hundreds of members of the Hazara community have been protesting for several days against the killing of 11 coal miners in Mach town of Balochistan.
On Sunday, unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine in Mach 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.
Through the week, protests spread to several other cities, including Karachi, Lahore and other towns.
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.
Since 2013, after some of the worst bombings took place, the city's Hazara population has been largely restricted to residing within two heavily fortified enclaves on either side of the city. (ANI)