QUETTA: Human rights activists, lawyers and political leaders got together at a seminar held at the Quetta Press Club on Saturday to highlight human rights situation in Balochistan and to condemn the arrest of four women in Awaran a few days ago.

On Nov 30, Levies and police officials announced arrest of the women and accused them of carrying arms and explosives for Baloch separatist groups in Awaran.

Balochistan Bar Council leader Rahib Khan Buledi, Quetta Press Club president Razaur Rehman, human rights activist Advocate Ahad, Jamiyat Lawyers Forum chairman Khalilur Rehman, Balochistan Awami Party’s Sameer, Awami National Party’s Arbab Ghulam Raza and Musa Baloch of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) addressed the seminar condemning the arrest of the women.

“The arrest of the innocent women shows the situation of human rights in Balochistan,” said Musa Baloch of the BNP-M.

Talking about the overall plight of minorities in Balochistan, Mr Buledi pledged legal assistance to all the minority groups in the province and also condemned forced media censorship under way in the country.

Mr Rehman of the Quetta Press Club lauded media’s role in highlighting the human rights situation in the country, particularly in Balochistan.

“Pakistan’s electronic and print media have been experiencing tough times. Freedom of speech is being suppressed blatantly but the federal and provincial governments are refusing to arrest people attacking media houses,” he added.

Mr Khalil of Jamiyat Lawyers Forum stressed upon the collective role of media, lawyers, civil society and government to secure human rights in the country.

Meanwhile, on Friday, demonstrations were held in Quetta, Kalat and Harnai with BNP-M leaders Akhtar Jan Mengal, Abdul Wali Kakar and Balochistan Assembly members Akhtar Hussain Longove, Ahmad Nawaz, Zeenat Shahwani, and Malik Naseer Shahwani leading the protesters and chanting slogans for the release of the women.

The protesters demanded the immediate release of the “kidnapped” women.

The protest comes in the heels of a press conference held by the BNP-M on Wednesday (Dec 4) which had cri­ticised the arrests and dema­nded the formation of a high-level committee to investigate the incident.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2019