At a time when the families of Shia Hazara miners are still mourning their dead, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, refused to speak on the incident. This at a time when the mourners refused to bury their loved ones, sitting in below freezing temperatures, asking the leader of the country to come and see them.
When he finally broke his silence, instead of expressing words of sympathy, the Prime Minister declared that “he would not be blackmailed by them into going to Quetta. You bury the bodies first and then I will visit.”
In the words of Fahd Hussain, Dawn’s resident editor in Islamabad, “This was not an opponent he had to vanquish. This was a crestfallen people wanting him to shed a tear for them, and with them. That’s it.” Further, “The nation was dumbfounded by the insensitivity of these remarks.” Further, “The veritable army of government spokespersons — who meet regularly under the direct guidance of the prime minister and weaponise their communication offensives — was stunned into silence. Some whimpered feebly on social media timelines but were summarily shamed into silence.”
According to Hussain, Imran Khan “read the situation wrong. And he read the politics wrong. So he went by the book, and by his gut, and he did what he has always done with opponents on the cricketing pitch and on the political outfield — he dominated them. “Don’t blackmail me,” he said to the broken old man who lost a son, and the tearful woman who lost a brother, and a howling and shattered little girl who lost a father. “Don’t blackmail me,” he told them and others sitting there shivering with cold and grief and apathy raining down from above.”
However, at the end of the day, it is not the people who have lost, but in the words of Hussain “little do they know that they are not the ones who have been defeated on Friday. Little do they know that they are not the ones who should bow their heads, stoop their shoulders and walk back broken, battered and bludgeoned.”