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Pakistan PM's Spokesperson Steps Down; Imran Khan's Delay In Visiting Terror Victims Cited

In a significant development, PTI leader Nadeem Afzal Chan has resigned as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's spokesperson over differences with the party.

Imran Khan

In a significant development, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Nadeem Afzal Chan has resigned as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's spokesperson over differences with the party, including the week-long delay by the PM to meet families of the Machh massacre victims.

Geo News quoted sources as saying that one of the major reasons behind Chan quitting his office was Khan's almost a week-long delay in visiting the Machh massacre victims' families who were staging a protest in freezing temperatures on Quetta's Western Bypass, demanding justice.

On January 8, in a statement on Twitter, Chan had written: "O the bodies of the helpless, innocent labourers, I am ashamed."

In a meeting on Wednesday, PM Imran Khan had criticised his aides and ministers for disagreeing with the PTI government's official policies — leading Chan to resign, the Pakistani media outlet reported. The aide had also maintained a low profile since some time and was not seen defending either Imran Khan or the PTI regime. Chan had resigned from the PPP on April 18, 2018, to join the PTI.

Pakistan PM meets families of slain miners

On January 3, terrorists abducted and shot dead 11 coal miners after separating them from others, in the latest targeted attack on the Shia Hazara community in the country. The miners were shot dead from a close range shortly after being abducted by the armed terrorists in Balochistan's mountainous Machh area. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. In the last few years, hundreds of Hazaras have been killed by extremist outfits in either suicide bomb attacks, planted bomb blasts or targeted killings.

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However, the Pakistani Prime Minister visited Quetta on January 9, days after he accused the grieving families of the slain miners of 'blackmailing' him after they refused to bury the remains of the miners until Khan visited them. The relatives of those killed had placed their coffins on a highway in Quetta. Imran Khan had turned down their demand and said he cannot be blackmailed. He asked protestors to first bury their dead only then he will visit them. They ended their protest and buried the bodies on Saturday after Imran visited them. 

The Shia Hazara community, who live in the border areas of Balochistan and Afghanistan, are the main targets of sectarian violence in the province as they are easily identifiable due to their distinctive physical appearance. Sunni militants consider them as heretics. The targeted killing of the coal miners drew worldwide condemnation, including reproach from the offices of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir.

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(With agency inputs)

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