QUETTA: Balochistan remained cut off from the rest of the country on Tuesday as all national highways were blocked in support of traders and daily wagers who have been protesting in Chaman for seven months against the border closure and imposition of one-document regime for movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The call to block highways was given Tehreek-i-Tahafuz Ayeen-i-Pakistan (TTAP), a six-party opposition alliance, in support of the participants of Chaman sit-in which has been continuing since October last year, demanding withdrawal of the condition of border crossing between the two neighbouring countries through passport and visa.

The protestors’ main demand is the withdrawal of the new regulation and resumption of the old system which allowed travel on Pakistani National Identity Card and Afghan ID card, called Teskera.

All highways, including Quetta-Chaman, Quetta-Zhob, Quetta-Dera Ghazi Khan and Quetta-Karachi and roads linking Balochistan with Karachi, Punjab and Khyber Pakht­unkhwa remained closed at different points.

TTAP workers and supporters put barricades and big boulders on the highways, suspending all kinds of traffic between Balochistan and other provinces.

Hundreds of vehicles, including passenger coaches, buses and trucks loaded with import and export goods remained stranded on the highways and roads.

The Afghan transit trade has already been suspended as the Quetta-Chaman highway linking Quetta with Kandahar has remained blocked for the last two weeks and the protesters are not allowing any truck and big vehicle to cross between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Hundreds of trucks carrying Afghan transit trade goods were stranded on both sides of the border.

The highways and roads remained closed till Tuesday evening. The people traveling in passenger coaches, including women and children, had faced great difficulties in the extremely hot weather.

However, the TTAP workers and supporters removed the barricades and builders from the highways and roads in the night and restored the traffic.

No untoward incident was reported from any area of Balochistan during the blocking of highways and roads.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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