ISLAMABAD, Jan 2: Leaders of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement (Ponam) on Monday held a joint protest demonstration outside the Parliament House against the ongoing military operation in Balochistan.

Led by ARD chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the opposition leaders chanted slogans against the government and demanded an immediate end to the military operation in Balochistan.

The ARD leaders also announced to hold a protest rally in Lahore on January 8 to express solidarity with the people of Balochistan.

The opposition leaders carried banners and placards and shouted different slogans such as “stop state terrorism in Balochistan,”, “say no to military rule”, “go Musharraf go”, “down with military aggression”, and “down with military dictatorship”.

Speaking on the occasion, ARD chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim said the country had suffered in the past too when force was used to settle political issues. He said history was being repeated and the army was killing its own people.

He said the ARD would continue to support the people of Balochistan and Waziristan where military operations were under way. He asked the rulers to resolve the political issues through dialogue.

Mr Fahim said the army had no role in the creation of Pakistan and, therefore, it should not interfere in the political affairs of the country.

Ponam leader Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch alleged that women and children were being bombed in the military operation in Balochistan. He asked the military to go back to the barracks and let the people decide their fate.

Mr Baloch said the ongoing military operation was causing hatred among the provinces and the situation could go out of control any time. “A time can come when even we will not be able to control the situation and then the army generals will repent,” he added.

He asked the ARD leadership to come out on streets in support of the Baloch people. He made it clear that the people of Balochistan would not surrender their right to rule the province.

Opposition leader in the Balochistan Assembly Kachkol Ali regretted that the people of Punjab had always supported military dictatorship in the country. He said that it was because of the army that Pakistan lost its one arm in 1971. He lamented that the military rulers had learnt no lesson from the 1971 tragedy.

Tehmina Daultana of the Pakistan Muslim League-N assured the people of Balochistan that the people of Punjab were with them in this hour of need. She said time had come when Gen Musharraf would have to quit as the people of Punjab had also decided to participate in the ongoing struggle for the restoration of democracy.

Abdul Rauf Mengal of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) showed some photographs of the bodies of old men and children who, according to him, had become victims of “carpet bombing” in Balochistan.

He said these pictures proved that the interior minister had told a lie that no operation was going on in Balochistan.