ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has “condemned” firing on protesters allegedly by security forces at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Chaman in Balochistan, resulting in the deaths of three people, and called for holding an investigation into the incident.

In a statement issued here on Thursday, PPP information secretary and MNA Dr Nafisa Shah also urged the government to pay compensation to those who lost their lives and were injured in the unfortunate incident.

Dr Shah said that the people of Pakistan had the constitutional right to hold peaceful protest demonstrations and it was also their fundamental right.

“No citizen can be stopped from exercising his or her constitutional and legal rights through the use of force or weapons,” Dr Shah said.

At least three people, including a woman, were killed and over 20 injured in a clash between an unruly mob and security forces at the Friendship Gate border crossing in Chaman on Thursday.

After remaining closed for pedestrian movement for several weeks due to the coronavirus and some security reasons, the border crossing was finally reopened on July 29 to allow people from both sides to travel to their native areas to celebrate Eid.

Reportedly, a large number of people gathered and staged a sit-in at Friendship Gate on Thursday with the intention to cross the border. However, Frontier Corps (FC) personnel refused to open the gate until shifting of the protesters from the site.

Meanwhile, a large number of Afghan nationals, including women and children, also gathered there for crossing into Afghanistan. However, when the gate was not opened by the border officials, the protesters became violent and attacked FC offices and other government agencies. They also set the FC and Nadra offices on fire.

The FC personnel fired bullets in the air to disperse the mob and the situation was aggravated by some persons in the crowd while gunshots were also heard. In the melee, three people were killed and 20 others suffered injuries.

The protesters then went to Chaman town where they forcibly shut down all bazaars and shopping malls and blocked roads.

After the incident, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove at a press conference stated that some miscreants in the protest provoked the crowd and the incident was being investigated.

The minister stated that the government would take decisions in the interest of the people and the country. He said the government had closed the Chaman border due to security concerns.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2020