QUETTA: Hundreds of people protesting against the closure of a crossing point between Pakistan and Iran in Mashkel area of Rakhshan division in Balochistan, started a long march towards the provincial capital.

The protesters, including traders, had been staging a sit-in for the last one month in the border town Mashkel demanding the opening of Pak-Iran Maza Sar border crossing used by local people for buying food items and other essential commodities.

Its closure has created shortage of food items and other items of daily use. Besides, locals said the border trade was their livelihood which has also been impacted.

Hundreds of protestors, after ending the month-long sit-in, started the long march on Saturday and reached Yakmach area of Chagai district on Sunday where locals welcomed them.

Locals protesting for a month to press authorities for reopening of crossing point

The participants of the long march expressed their gratitude to the people of Yakmach, saying, “We are gra­t­eful to the people of Yakmach for their humanitarian gesture and for standing with us during this difficult time.”

The people of Yakmach announced their full support for the participants of the long march, stating that for the past 28 days, people of Mashkel had been staging a sit-in for their basic necessities of life but due to the lack of any action by the government, they have been forced to launch the protest long march towards Quetta.

“We fully support this long march and stand shoulder to shoulder with our oppressed Baloch brothers,” they said.

After staying in Yakmach overnight, the participants of the long march will depart for Dalbandin on Monday morning.

Tribal leader Mir Jiand Khan Reki, participating in the long march, spoke to journalists by phone from the area and said that despite staging the sit-ins for 28 days, the government officials paid no heed and did nothing to resolve the issue.

“Despite staging several protests and strikes, the government did nothing and now we are compelled to march towards Quetta to highlight our demands. Upon reaching Quetta, we will hold a sit-in in front of the provincial assembly building,” Mr Reki said.

Meanwhile, the central leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Member of the Provincial Assembly, Haji Mir Zahid Ali Riki, on Sunday said the local political leadership and members of civil society of

Mashkel have been protesting against the closure of the Pak-Iran Maza Sar border for the last one month.

The MPA said the border crossing’s closure has created a serious shortage of food items and other essential commodities in the area and people are facing severe difficulties in buying essential food items.

The MPA said he has informed top officials of the province, including the chief minister chief secretary, IG and home secretary about the problems locals had been facing due to border closure.

He said he could not leave his people alone in this difficult time at any cost and held out an assurance to keep knocking on every door to reopen the Maza Sar border crossing.

He said that the local people of Mashkel were asking for the border opening to feed their families and they are willing to comply with all government regulations including payment of taxes.

He said the provincial government and other authorities concerned should immediately reopen the Maza Sar border to end food items’ shortage in the area faced by the thousands of people of Mashkel.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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