Dozens of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists staged an hours-long sit-in in Quetta on Saturday after MNA Mohsin Dawar was barred from leaving the airport upon arrival in the Balochistan capital.
In a tweet in the evening, Dawar, a top PTM leader, said he had been "detained at Quetta airport" along with a friend.
"Once again our rights are being violated by state above state," he wrote. "I am told its because of security risks. Why are these risks limited to me only? We refuse to be silenced like this. We will not be intimidated."
As the sit-in protest by supporters and activists continued into the night, a PTM member told Dawn that Dawar was taken away from the airport in a car by district administration officials. He said because there were no remaining flights scheduled out of Quetta tonight, the lawmaker would likely be sent back to Islamabad in the morning.
Dawar had landed in Quetta in the afternoon to attend the third rally of the opposition's 11-party anti-government alliance — Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — on Sunday.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and other PDM leaders also arrived in the city today and were provided "bullet-proof cars and security", according to Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani.
But Shahwani said Dawar was denied entry into Quetta because a ban was imposed on his entry "into any district of Balochistan for 90 days on July 29".
In a tweet, he shared a copy of an order issued by the Balochistan home department that said the entry of Dawar and fellow PTM lawmaker Ali Wazir in Balochistan was banned for 90 days under the Balochistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960.
The notice, dated July 29, said the ban on the PTM leaders had been imposed "in the best interest of public peace and security".
Under the same order, Dawar was denied entry into Quetta when he landed there last month as well. He was taken into custody from the airport and shifted to a rest house by the provincial authorities before being sent back the next day.
When questioned why other PDM leaders were allowed to enter the city but not Dawar, Shahwani said all political leaders and workers arriving in the city "are respectable for us". He emphasised that the decision to deny entry to Dawar "has nothing to do with the PDM rally" but was taken in accordance with the July 29 order.
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
In June, the group had accepted an offer for talks by the government but called for confidence-building measures (CBM) to demonstrate sincerity. At a press conference, PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen had said that the government must take steps to bridge the trust deficit, adding that it was customary for parties to take CBMs before entering into talks.
With additional reporting by Sirajuddin in Peshawar.