QUETTA: A coalition of four Baloch, Pashtoon and Hazara nationalist parties protesting the alleged vote rigging has announced plans to shift their ongoing protest in front of the Balochistan Assembly, where newly elected members are set to be sworn in on Wednesday (Feb 28).

The four parties — the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awa­mi Party (PkMAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), National Party (NP) and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) — have been staging demonstrations for the last two weeks across Quetta and other towns of the province, voicing allegations of irregularities in the Feb 8 elections.

Balochistan Governor Malik Abdul Wali Khan Kakar has summoned the first session of the new assembly for Feb 28. During this session, elected MPAs will take oath and proceed with the election of the speaker and deputy speaker.

The outgoing assembly speaker, Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, will preside over the session and administer the oath to lawmakers.

A spokesperson for the four-party alliance said on Sunday that 17 days of sit-ins in front of the district returning office (DRO) had been called off and would be shifted to the Balochistan Assembly starting Wednesday.

PkMAP, BNP-M, NP, HDP plan protest during maiden session

“We are abandoning our sit-in camp for two days and are shifting it in front of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding that the alliance would continue their sit-ins until the restoration of “real results” of our candidates, which were allegedly changed in favour of candidates of other parties.

The relocation of the sit-in has also led to the reopening of roads around the DRO office, previously closed to traffic due to the protest.

Speaking to the participants before ending the sit-in on Sunday, PkMAP Balochistan President Abdul Qahar Wadan, NP leader Haji Atta Mohammad Bangulzai, BNP-M’s Ghulam Nabi Marri, and HDP leader Qadir Ali Nayal and other leaders stressed that they staged successful protests over the last two weeks.

However, they expressed disappointment over the lack of official engagement with their grievances but resolved to extend their protest actions across Balochistan, with plans to organise sit-ins and rallies province-wide every Saturday.

They lamented that the mandate given to them by the people of the province had not been accepted, so they would stage a protest in front of the Balochistan Assembly on Wednesday and later decide their future course of action.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

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