QUETTA: Hundreds of thousands of people, including workers and supporters of the National Party, Haq Do Tehreek, and other parties, participated in a protest rally and staged a sit-in in Turbat town against the ban on trade activities at the Pak-Iran border areas on Saturday.
Party leaders, workers and supporters marched in Turbat town, taking to various roads and streets while carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands. National Party leaders led the participants and chanted slogans against the government.
After marching in the town, the protesters staged a sit-in on the main road of Turbat town, where leaders from different political parties addressed the participants. They strongly condemned the ban on trade activities, which the government justified as a measure against smuggling.
A strongly worded resolution was adopted at the protest rally and public meeting. In the resolution, they referred to the ban as “a conspiracy against the people of Balochistan”. They demanded that Islamabad should review its decision and immediately restore border trade with Iran.
Demonstrators term ban a conspiracy against people of Balochistan
The resolution said that terming the supply of Iranian oil from the Balochistan border ‘smuggling’ was not supported by facts.
“All transporters operating at the Pak-Iran border were registered with the Frontier Corps and local administration, and they crossed into Iran with the permission of the authorities concerned,” the resolution stated.
It added that people arranged thousands of vehicles after their registration because it was a legal trade.
The leaders of the protesting parties deplored the sudden change in the government’s stance, declaring the ‘legal supply’ of Iranian oil and other items illegal.
They demanded the government review its policy and allow the border trade.
Meanwhile, President of the Balochistan National Party (BNP-Awami) Mir Asadullah Baloch, told a press conference that the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families depended on border trade and its closure would not be accepted at any cost.
He announced a strike in the entire Makran region on Sept 21 as a protest.
Mr Baloch, who also served as a provincial minister in the last government, stated that the caretaker government’s role was to conduct a free and fair election and it had no mandate to close the border.
“An elected government, comprising public representatives, has the right to take any decision in this regard,” Mr Baloch said, adding that people of Makran would not accept such a decision.
The BNP-Awami leader deemed this act horrendous and bigoted, which would only bring more anarchy to the province.
He criticised the caretaker government for not taking any steps to control the rising prices of essential items in the country, while people were already suffering from inflation and skyrocketing prices.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2023