Highways across Balochistan blocked over protests against ‘rigging’

Published February 11, 2024
Supporters of various political parties stage a sit-in protest outside the deputy commissioner office in Quetta, on Saturday.—AFP
Supporters of various political parties stage a sit-in protest outside the deputy commissioner office in Quetta, on Saturday.—AFP

QUETTA: Balochistan remained cut off from Sindh and Punjab on Saturday as different highways and roads were blocked due to protests against alleged election rigging by workers and supporters of various political parties.

The protests also disrupted trade with Iran and Afghanistan and train services between Quetta and Chaman on Saturday.

In Quetta, traffic was affected as the local administration blocked roads leading to the district returning officer’s office, where political parties continued their sit-in against the alleged change in election results.

Meanwhile, senior political leaders like the National Party president, Dr Abdul Malik Baloch; PkMAP Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai; PPP Balochistan President Mir Changez Khan Jamali; JUI-F provincial emir Maulana Abdul Wasey; and PTI’s Salar Khan have rejected the results and announced protests, including wheel jam strikes and blocking highways linking Balochistan with other provinces.

On Saturday, the National Party supporters staged a sit-in and blocked the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) highway in Turbat and other areas.

ANP, NP, PPP hold sit-in; trade with Iran, Afghanistan disrupted

In Turbat, hundreds of party workers gathered after a protest rally led by Dr Baloch and NP Secretary-General Jan Buledi.

A protest was also staged in Panjgur, and roads linking parts of Makran with other districts of the province were blocked.

While addressing the Turbat sit-in, Dr Baloch claimed his party was deprived of a National Assembly seat and at least three provincial assembly seats from Makran and other areas.

PPP supporters gathered at the Sibi-Sukkur National Highway, linking Nasirabad division with Sindh, at Dera Murad Jamali and Dera Allahyar and blocked the road.

PPP’s Mr Jamali said that Sardar Ghulam Rasool Umrani, the party’s candidate from PB-14 (Nasirabad), was winning till late on Thursday night. But the next day, the result was changed, and Muhammad Khan Lehri of PML-N was declared the winner.

The trade with Iran and Afghanistan was suspended as demonstrators blocked the Nushki-Taftan and Chaman highways.

Awami National Party workers, led by its provincial chapter president Asghar Khan Achakzai, gathered on the highway in Chaman and blocked it by putting barricades and heavy boulders.

Parties reject results

The leaders of PPP, PTI, BNP-Mengal, and other parties have said the alleged manipulation of results in favour of “selected candidates” will not be accepted.

The Balochistan Grand Alliance head, Nawabzada Lashkari Khan Raisani, in a press conference, claimed that some state institutions allegedly rigged the election.

He said parliament has been turned into a “business centre” and the Election Commission has played “the role of a stock exchange”.

Mr Salar, the PTI Balochistan general secretary and candidate from NA-263 (Quetta), claimed his party has won five national and nine provincial assembly seats from Balo­ch­istan. “But our results are being changed through rigging.”

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2024

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