A shutter-down strike was observed in different Baloch-dominated towns of the province on Sunday against alleged military operation in earthquake-hit Awaran district. Baloch National Front (BNF), an alliance of Baloch nationalist parties and student organisations had given the strike call to protest alleged military drive in different parts of Awaran district, including tehsil Mashkey.
Markets, shopping centres and business establishments remained closed in Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar, Pasni, Turbat, Mand, Hub, Kharan, Basima, Panjgur and other towns.
Traffic on the roads of these towns was thinner than usual and closure of restaurants and medical stores caused much inconvenience to the people.
Local administrations had taken tight security measures to prevent any unpleasant incident and, luckily, no such incident was reported from any part of the province.
BNF alleged that under pretext of relief activities the security forces were picking up innocent youth and conducting military drive in various parts of Awaran district due to which the people have been compelled to migrate.
Balochistan Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Sarfaraz Bugti has dispelled the impression that any military operation was being carried out in Awaran district.
Awaran, one of the insurgency-infested districts of Balochistan, was badly hit by massive earthquake on Sept 24 that claimed more than 500 lives and left over 35,000 families homeless.
Following earthquake, army and paramilitary troops entered the district to rescue and provide relief to the affected people. Presence of security forces was opposed by Baloch nationalist militants. Reports of clashes between the militants and security forces and attack on relief activities were pouring in from Awaran district since September 25.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2013.