PM Khan: The Hazaras Are Waiting For Your Empathy And Leadership

In 2019, I wrote an article “Nothing beats Empathy, which clearly PM Imran Khan lacks. Ironical, isn’t it?”  This article described the inhumane handling by our worthy prime minister of a sit-in organised by the Hazara community in response to a terrorist attack. The attack had resulted in the loss of 19 innocent lives and left several injured. Fast forward to today, and what catches one’s attention again is the indifference and insensitivity being shown by our prime minister, who is not ready to visit the grieving families of the Mach coal miners. The 11 murdered victims of the attack were made to suffer indescribable terror, torture and deaths in their last few minutes on earth… They were identified first as Hazaras and then slaughtered, the details of which are painful even to think about. The attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group. Since the terror attack, the families of the victims have been protesting in the sub-zero winter streets of Quetta for 4 days now, alongside the bodies of the deceased coal miners. Thousands of bereaved men, women and children of the Hazara community are, as of right now, protesting and demanding justice, alongside the unburied bodies of the killed miners.

It is disturbing to recall that back in 2012, when the Hazara community held its first protest alongside unburied bodies of its martyrs, Imran Khan was the only politician who visited them. However, now when he is the prime minister of the country, the rightful caretaker of all Pakistanis, his indifference and heedlessness to the protestors is nothing short of callous and deeply disheartening. Is it because it suited him then to pay a visit to the mourners but visiting these people now is of no apparent use? The innocent, oppressed and helpless people of the Hazara community, holding a sit-in in the bitterly cold Quetta weather, have only one demand of the prime minister: that he visits them personally.  Is it too much to ask for? Is demanding the very basic right to life too much to ask for? Seeing how things are, one does not expect Imran Khan to ensure the protection of innocent people’s lives. One hardly expects Imran Khan to find the culprits and bring them to justice. One doesn’t expect Imran Khan to launch a full-fledged operation against the terrorists responsible for such heinous crimes. One can hardly NOT think of the prime minister as a weak and powerless prime minister. Still, one wishes that, as the man in charge (at least for appearance’s sake), the PM shows some empathy.

That Imran Khan, the sitting PM of Pakistan, demonstrated at least some empathy, care and solidarity with the Hazaras by paying them a visit was the least that one absolutely expected of him. It has been 4 days literally that the Hazaras are protesting in this extreme weather. How can our Prime Minister show such callous behaviour? Does Imran Khan forget that if he is sitting in the auspicious seat of the prime minister, it is because of us, the people who voted for him?

The shameful absence extends as much to the other political parties and their leaders. Where are Mariam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari? Where are the other PDM leaders? Why haven’t they had the decency to visit the grieving families either, just like our esteemed and indifferent PM. It seems that all the politicians we are unfortunate enough to have – the politicians both in the current government and in the opposition alike – are only ever willing to stick their necks when it benefits them. It seems that the politicians are busy making cold political calculations of this heart-wrenching incident and the benefits of standing by the grieving and innocent martyrs’ families.

We are definitely in a dire need of new political leadership. We need leadership that incorporates the most essential quality of empathy in its conduct. Within days of the Christchurch mosque shooting incident in New Zealand, a ban was imposed on all automatic weapons. I wonder what major measures would be taken in Quetta for the protection of the Hazara community. The fanatics behind these brutal acts of terrorism should be punished exemplarily to let everyone know that we neither endorse nor tolerate them. The involvement of foreign forces in play remains a constant topic of contention among political elites and analysts but who can disagree with the fact that the current government is completely incompetent, at best, unless it does something concrete to dispel this assertion?  The state is responsible for protecting its citizens at every cost. Those who are responsible for the current incompetence need to be held answerable, and strict actions need to be taken against them. In 2013, in response to another attack on Shias, particularly Hazaras, in Quetta, Imran Khan tweeted: “Where is the state?” Exactly sir, where is the state?

The only ray of light today are the beautiful, valiant and empathetic citizens of Pakistan who have not left their brethren in this grieving situation alone. Ordinary Pakistani citizens, regardless of which political party they support, repeatedly show that they don’t only have a beautiful human side but are also far better than the so-called leaders of their parties. In different parts of the country, protests in solidarity with the Hazara community are taking place and people, irrespective of their colour, sect or ethnicity, are participating and raising their voices against this atrocity. For me, at least, that spells a ray of hope. It allows one to continue to dare to hope that we as a nation will rise again and will rise better.

The author is a graduate of NUST in Development Studies Department.  She can be reached at