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QUETTA: As many as 265 militants belonging to different proscribed organisations have abandoned their armed struggle against the state and handed over their weapons to the government while announcing plans to join mainstream politics for the development of the country.

The militants, along with their commanders, laid down their arms in a ceremony held at a lawn of the Balochistan Assembly on Tuesday.

Balochistan Chief Minis­ter Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, Southern Command Comm­a­nder Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, Home Min­ister Mir Saleem Ahmed Khosa, provincial ministers Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind and Nawabzada Goh­ram Bugti as well as senior civil and military officers attended the ceremony.

Official sources said that the militants belonged to banned outfits, including the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the Lashkar-i-Balochistan.

The provincial government, under the reconciliation package, distributed half a million rupees to each commander, Rs250,000 to each sub-commander, and Rs100,000 to each militant who laid down the weapons and decided to join hands with the government.

Chief Minister Alyani while speaking at the ceremony urged the militants to abandon their armed struggle against the state and play their role in the development of their own province by joining mainstream politics.

The government, he assured, would extend all help and financial assistance for their rehabilitation.

“The new government is committed to removing longstanding sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan by taking positive steps for the development of the province,” he said.

Talking to reporters after the ceremony, the chief minister expressed his astonishment over the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding giving citizenship to Afghan and Bengali refugees living in Pakistan.

Mr Alyani said that he did not understand on what grounds the prime minister made the announcement, adding that without taking the people and their representatives into confidence any such decision could not be made as the political parties of Balochistan had reservations over the presence of Afghan refugees in large numbers in the province.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2018