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Protesters Clash with Authorities in Quetta, Ransack Deputy Commissioner’s Office

QUETTA: On Wednesday, local authorities dismantled protesters’ camps and reopened the Quetta-Chaman Highway, leading to the ransacking of the deputy commissioner’s office and seven arrests.

Although the highway was briefly reopened, it was soon blocked again, halting all trade and traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the border crossing.

Officials reported that the local administration, Frontier Corps, and Levies personnel had cleared the road of all obstacles. Some sources claimed that the protesters’ camps were set ablaze.

Following the reopening, hundreds of trucks and vehicles carrying Afghan transit, import, and export goods, which had been stranded in Shela Bagh, were able to pass through.

However, once security forces left, the sit-in participants blocked the highway again and threw stones at trucks and Levies officials in the Garang area, near Chaman.

Police and Levies officials used tear gas to disperse the crowd, but tensions escalated. Many people gathered in front of the DC office in Chaman, Quetta on Wednesday to protest the operation in Garang.

During the protest, some individuals broke into the DC office, damaging furniture, computers, and other equipment. The Levies force, stationed at the office, managed to disperse the crowd and arrest seven protesters. Local journalists reported that some protesters also threw stones at the Chaman Press Club, shattering its windows.

DC Athar Abbas Raja confirmed the presence of protesters outside his office and stated that negotiations were ongoing to resolve the situation. He also confirmed the arrest of seven individuals involved in the attack on his office. Protesters claimed that sit-in committee spokesmen Sadiq Achakzai and Ghousullah were also detained.

The district administration stated that during an anti-polio campaign, miscreants attacked the polio team, injuring two Levies personnel and assaulting female polio workers. The deputy commissioner held negotiations with the sit-in committee leader to maintain law and order in Chaman.

During these negotiations, some protesters attacked Deputy Commissioner Athar Abbas Raja and vandalized his office. “The protesters have crossed the red line and FIRs will be registered against them on terror charges,” the statement said.

Shahid Rind, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government, stated that the protesters had repeatedly challenged the state’s authority over the past several months. “Inciting revolt against the state in the name of a sit-in is no longer acceptable,” he warned, indicating that action would be taken against such elements.

Home Minister Mir Zia Ullah Langove assured that peace would be restored through action against the troublemakers. He also mentioned that compensation was being provided to those affected by the border trade and emphasized that the ‘one document regime’ is a constitutional requirement.

A spokesperson for the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party condemned the crackdown on the sit-in and the subsequent arrests. In a statement issued on Wednesday, he demanded the release of the detained protesters.

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