Balochistan shuts to mark Balach Marri’s martyrdom anniversary

Protesters block all major highways preventing movement of all types of vehicles. Transporters join strike

by Mohammad Zafar

Quetta – Occupied Balochistan – Nov 20: A complete shutter-down and wheel-jam strike was observed in most parts of Balochistan on Saturday to mark the third death anniversary of Nawabzada Balach Marri.

Traffic between Quetta and rest of the country remained suspended for the day. The RCD Highway connecting Quetta with Zahidan was also closed for traffic. Protesters put up barricades on all the major highways preventing the movement of all types of vehicle. Transporters also joined the strike call from the Baloch nationalists by not plying their passenger buses. Intercity traffic remained suspended.

The strike call was supported by the Baloch nationalist parties, including Balochistan National Party (BNP-M), Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Baloch National Movement (BNM), Baloch Students Organisation-Azad (BSO-Azad) and others. Complete shutter-down strike was observed in Quetta. All the shopping and trading centers situated in Liaquat Bazaar, Jinnah Road, Mezan Chowk, Alamdar Road, Prince Road, Saryab Road, Brewery Road, Hazar Ganji, Joint Road, Shahbaz Town, Jinnah Town, Abdul Sattar Road and other areas remained closed for the day.

Most of the streets wore a deserted look and traffic was thin. People in all the major townships and population centres of the province preferred to stay at home. A curfew-like situation was witnessed in those parts of Quetta that are strongholds of Baloch nationalists. No political worker was seen on the roads implementing the strike call through intimidation or use of force. The businessmen, traders and shopkeepers voluntarily observed the strike.

Stringent security measures were adopted to avert any untoward incident in the city. Heavy contingents of police, Frontier Corps and other law enforcement agencies were deployed at different places. They patrolled the more sensitive areas. Police vehicles, mounted with guns, were seen patrolling the provincial metropolis. Provincial Police Officer Malik Iqbal inspected the security measures in Quetta.

The strike was also observed in Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Gwadar, Kech, Mand, Pasni, Sibi, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Awaran, Panjgur and other Baloch dominant districts of province. The activists of BRP and BSO staged protest demonstrations in Sibi and some other places. They accused government functionaries of killing innocent Baloch students and political opponents in their custody.

Marri was killed near Sarlat, a no-man’s land between Pakistan and Afghanistan, during a search operation in 2007. Government officials claimed that he was killed in an airstrike by NATO forces inside the Afghan territory. The Afghan government had never confirmed this claim. Marri was elected member of the Balochistan Assembly in 2002 from Kohlu district as an independent candidate during the Musharraf regime. He had never attended the assembly session. Unconfirmed reports say that he had also led the banned Baloch Liberation Army.

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