GWADAR / QUETTA: Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove has warned anyone who challenges the state writ would be dealt with an iron fist, shortly after Haq Do Tehreek (HDT) activists and police clashed on the streets of Gwadar, during which the main gate of police complex was also set on fire.

Violent protesters were tear-gassed and over a dozen arrested during the crackdown on Monday, a day after talks between the two sides for a settlement to end the two-month-long sit-in failed to make any headway.

While all commercial activities remained suspended across the port city and public transport stayed off the road during the day as HDT leader Maulana Hidayatur Rahman gave a strike call, the protesters marched on roads and hurled rocks at the police complex of DIG Makran Range before burning its main gate.

As they also put barricades and hurdles on the road leading towards the port, police lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the mob, that turned violent after police action. Shutdown was also reported from Pasni, Jewani and Ormara.

Home minister vows to maintain writ of state; leaves door open for talks with Haq Do Tehreek

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove, meanwhile, told a presser that law enforcement agencies took strict action against the protesters for trying to block Gwadar deep sea port and suspend development work in the area, as they had besieged roads leading to sensitive installations, navy offices, the Pearl Continental Hotel and the under-construction international airport.

“Police have arrested 18 HDT people who attacked the police complex and set the complex gate on fire and were insisting to block Gwadar port,” he said, explaining that the police had no other option but to stop the protesters from entering the port.

“Whoever will break or take the law into their own hands would be dealt with according to the law, even if Maulana is found involved in it,” the home minister warned.

If the Maulana wants negotiations, the government is ready for it, but it would not allow anyone to challenge the writ of the state, he said, recalling that the HDT leadership, instead of taking part in negotiations with the official team, sent four representatives in his place.

They were briefed about the progress on the issues such as putting an end to trawling and matters related to Iran, he said.

However, he said, the HDT representatives while talking to the deputy commissioner quoted the Maulana as saying, “I have taken my revenge by not attending the negotiations and now talks would be held next day.”

He said the government team waited for resumption of talks, but the other side did not move forward.

Referring to their demands, the minister said even Levies personnel were deployed to check illegal trawling in the Balochistan waters. The issues of Customs, Wapda or tax-free zones belong to the federal government, yet the provincial government offered to take up those issues with the centre by forming a joint committee, he said.

“If Maulana Hidayatur Rehman says why his non-custom paid vehicle was seized, then the government cannot do anything about it,” the minister said.

Asked about increasing terror attacks in the province, he said the terrorists who returned after the change of government in Afghanistan were carrying out the attacks in Balochistan, but the government was making all-out efforts to control the situation.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2022

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