He clearly meant what he said, and said what he meant, and in doing it he thoroughly exposed himself. It’s for a reason, after all, that they say if you don’t have anything good to say about something then don’t say anything at all. Just when you think that the selected prime minister cannot possibly surprise you any longer with his antics, he stoops even lower and leaves even the most thick-skinned of his backers in utter shock. Now he’s forced PTI spokespersons to sit in TV programs with long faces and devote all their energies to putting an acceptable spin on his latest blunder all over again. And this time is not the same as all the other times. This time, very clearly, nobody in the whole country, which also includes the ruling party, except him feels the way he does about the protest staged by the Hazara community. It’s not as if somebody came and put the word “blackmail” in his mouth. And the argument that things would have been much better if only he had used a softer expression holds no water at all because that would only amount to condoning duplicity, and that too on the part of the head of state. He clearly meant what he said, and said what he meant, and in doing it he thoroughly exposed himself. It’s for a reason, after all, that they say if you don’t have anything good to say about something then don’t say anything at all. But when you’re in the habit of putting your foot in your mouth every time you open it then there is very little anybody can do to help you and eventually even they will tire of putting out needles fires all the time. I would be the last person to add any insult to the many, many injuries of the Hazara people, but the bit about the opposition politicising the issue needs to be settled once and for all. Let’s not forget that the first thing that surprised people about the selected prime minister’s refusal to go to Quetta immediately after the killings, even before he had degraded himself by saying that he was being blackmailed into going there, was the memory of his own words when the last time the Hazara staged a similar sit-in. Back then, his was the loudest voice calling for the government’s head. Was that politicising the issue as well? Nothing that Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto said or did when they went to meet the families of those killed in the massacre would have made the slightest difference to their suffering. So real and deep is their pain that one shudders, to be brutally honest, even at the prospect of putting one in their feet even if just to imagine what they might be going through. Yet, as the face of the opposition, they felt duty bound to become a part of that savagely persecuted community’s grief, even if a very small and ultimately insignificant one. But such grace is simply lost on this selected government. Now, with his insensitivity, the prime minister himself has driven a knife through the rank and file of the ruling party. He can no longer hide his utter contempt for even the most severe suffering of some of the simplest and most honest people in this country. And his defenders cannot wash over one outrage after another endlessly. So far most people had come to understand, after wasting about half the electoral cycle, that the selected prime minister was just too incompetent for the job. Now they are realising that he is also unfit for high office. The man who promised to run the country on the lines of the Republic of Medina now considers it beneath him to associate with victims of blatant genocide inside his own country. For almost three decades the Hazara have lost loved ones – shot, stabbed, butchered, blown away – yet not one person has ever been made to pay for any of those crimes. And when, with no other option left, they are forced to sit with dead bodies of their loved ones and demand justice from the prime minister, their heart wrenching cries for help are taken for blackmail. In such times I am reminded of the compassion and humanity of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jecinda Ardern in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque massacre in that country. Nobody came back to life because she held and hugged the grieving families of the people that were gunned down. But it did give them the faith that the state stood by them and would use all its might to deliver justice to their doorsteps. Perhaps that lessened their burden just a little bit. That is how truly representative leaders behave.