ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah has promised government support for the release of four women who have been recently arrested in Awaran, Balochistan.

He was talking to a delegation of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) led by its president Sardar Akhtar Mengal at the chambers of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri here on Friday.

Mr Suri and BNP-M members of the National Assembly Agha Hasan Baloch, Mohammad Hashim Nautezai and Dr Shahnaz Baloch were present during the meeting which discussed the issue of the arrest of four women.

The minister said he highly valued Balochistan’s culture and traditions and sentiments of the people of the province. He said the meeting had been held keeping in view the sensitivity of the situation. “The primary objective of this meeting is to ensure positive and timely solution of the matter.”

Ijaz Shah assured the BNP-M delegation of full assistance from the government side for the release of the four women.

Deputy Speaker Suri, who also hails from Balochistan, spoke about the tribal culture of the province and explained how the matter had become immensely sensitive due to involvement of women in the case.

The interior minister responded that he fully understood the intensity of the situation and that it was understandable how things had become a matter of honour for the area and its people.

He again conveyed support from the Centre to the delegation.

Akhtar Mengal appreciated this positive step (the meeting) by Mr Shah and Mr Suri. He observed that the future generations would have a bright future, if people from Balochistan rose above the party lines to work together for progress and prosperity of the province.

Later talking to reporters, Qasim Suri said the province of Balochistan had its own culture where women were given utmost respect, be it a domestic dispute or a tribal rivalry. He said the arrest of four women in Awaran had sparked a wave of fury in Balochistan.

A day earlier, the National Assembly’s deputy speaker had directed the interior minister to take notice of the alleged arrest last month of four women from Balochistan’s Awaran district and come to the session to brief lawmakers on this issue.

The directives were issued after the opposition members led by Akhtar Mengal of the BNP-Mengal, a government ally, staged a sit-in in front of the speaker’s dais.

According to Mr Mengal, “four women were kidnapped on November 29 and taken away to a torture cell and tortured”. The BNP-M had termed the reported arrest of the women a direct attack on the traditions of the Baloch people. The party had demanded formation of a high-level committee to investigate the incident.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019