Day-long wheel-jam strike cuts off Balochistan

Published February 19, 2024
SUPPORTERS of the Balochistan National Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Hazara Democratic Party protest against alleged rigging in the elections as they block the Quetta-Karachi Highway, on Sunday.—AFP
SUPPORTERS of the Balochistan National Party, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Hazara Democratic Party protest against alleged rigging in the elections as they block the Quetta-Karachi Highway, on Sunday.—AFP

QUETTA: Balochistan remained cut off from the rest of the country on Sunday as all highways linking the province with Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were bloc­ked throughout the day.

The wheel-jam strike call was given by the leaders of an alliance of four nationalist parties against the alle­ged rigging in the Feb 8 elections.

According to reports, workers and supporters of the four-party alliance — Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Pasht­unkhwa Milli Awami Party, Natio­nal Party, and Hazara Democratic Party — gathered at national highways in different areas.

They placed barricades and large boulders to block Quetta-Karachi, Quetta-Sukkur, Quetta-Chaman, Loralai-Dera Ghazi Khan, Quetta-Zhob-D.I. Khan-Islamabad highways, suspending all incoming and outgoing traffic.

Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan through Quetta-Taftan and Quetta-Chaman highways was also affected. Heavy trucks carrying Afghan transit goods were stopped at the entry and exit points, causing the suspension of imports and exports.

The train service between Quetta and Chaman was also affected.

According to reports, Makran Coastal Highway and inter-provincial roads remained closed throughout the day.

No vehicular passenger coaches were allowed to operate from Karachi to Quetta, Loralai to Barkhan, Zhob to Loralai, and Quetta-Khuzdar and Kalat also remained closed.

The Sibi-Sukkur Natio­nal Hig­hw­ay was closed to traffic due to a blockade by workers and supporters of PPP’s candidate Baba Ghu­lam Rasool Umrani.

Supporters of Nawab-zada Gohram Bugti, provincial president of JWP, also closed the highway in the Dera Murad Jamali area, protesting against alleged rigging in provincial assembly seat in Dera Bugti.

Candidates of the four-party alliance continued their protest in front of the Quetta DRO office. As per reports, workers and supporters have started to end their wheel-jam by removing the barricades and boulders from highways.

Behram Baloch in Gwadar, Ali Jan Mangi in Nasirabad and Abdul Wahid Shahwani in Khuzdar also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2024

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