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Widespread protests against poll rigging bring Balochistan to standstill


Quetta, Feb 21

Widespread protests persisted against alleged poll rigging in Quetta and other regions of Balochistan, marking a significant escalation in unrest, a media report said.

The four-party alliance comprising Baloch, Pashtun and Hazara nationalist parties has been on a sit-in outside the deputy commissioner’s office in Quetta, denouncing the purported election irregularities, The Express Tribune reported.

“We refuse to relent until our demands are addressed,” declared Haji Atta Muhammad Bangulzai, a prominent leader of the National Party (NP), who claims victory in a provincial Assembly seat from the Sariab Road Quetta constituency.

Notably, women are actively participating in the protest, underscoring the widespread discontent among the people.

The alliance, consisting of Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), National Party (NP), and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), has issued ultimatums to the Election Commission of Pakistan and returning officers across the province, warning of intensified protests if their demands are not met, The Express Tribune reported.

The protests, going on since February 9, have brought Balochistan to a virtual standstill, as major highways remain blocked, underscoring the deep-seated frustration and discontent among the populace regarding the integrity of the electoral process, the report said.

On February 15, at least two persons were killed and around a dozen were injured during an exchange of fire between two rival political groups in the Hub city of Balochistan, as the police failed to bring the situation under control.

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