On Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan hosted a discussion session with digital news journalists in which he said that India is backing the militant group Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh, to stir sectarian unrest within Pakistan. The group claimed responsibility for incident in Machh, Balochistan, on January 3, when 11 coal miners belonging to the persecuted Shia Hazara community were brutally slain.

Referring to the incident, the prime minister traced the roots of militant sectarianism in Balochistan to the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. He said that the militant groups remaining in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces from the region incurred “immense losses” to Pakistan.

Acknowledging the IS’s claim to responsibility for the terror attack, the premier noted that the militant group had the backing of India.

“This is the unanimous opinion of our government and our security agencies that India is backing ISIS,” the prime minister said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the Narendra Modi government in India of inciting Shia-Sunni conflicts within its neighbouring country.

“The objective of the Narendra Modi government is to inflame sectarianism in Pakistan by having Shia and Sunni scholars killed. But our security agencies timely preempted the plans, and arrested many terrorists,” he said, referencing the killing of Sunni scholar Maulana Adil Khan in Karachi last year.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office

He also said that the Shia community was particularly targetted by terrorists because of their sparse population and remote areas of residence.

Going further, the prime minister held the sardari system in Balochistan partially responsible for its instability. He said that tribal leaders in Balochistan formed alliances with provincial governments, which benefitted the leaders but not the masses.

However, he praised Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan for his work on developing the province. The Chief Minister is the one who negotiated with the mourners of the slain coal miners to conduct their burial prior to the prime minister’s visit to Quetta.

Earlier, the aggrieved has staged a 6-day sit-in protest beside the dead bodies of the victims, demanding the prime minister to visit and offer assurance against future terrorist attacks against the community. Protests erupted in many major cities of Pakistan in support of the Hazara community. However, the prime minister had refused to be “blackmailed” by the mourners into visiting immediately, and visited Quetta on January 9 after the burial ceremony had been conducted.


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