The government employees’ strike continued for the 9th day straight in the the capital city Quetta despite meeting the Education Minister of Balochistan. The protestors demand the 25% pay raise promised by the federal government and have threatened to continue the strikes indefinitely if their demands are not met.
Yar Muhammad Rind, the provincial Minister for Education, met with the representatives of the Grand Employees Alliance, the group organizing and leading the strikes, at his house in Quetta on Wednesday. Rind assured the protestors that the government will consider their demands after which the strike was temporarily called off.
Rind told the protestors that their demands are rightful and that he fully supported them. He said that he has spoken to the chief minister about the matter and that he will once again talk to him on the issue.
The protestors said that the education minister had assured them that he will convey their message to the chief minister. But if he fails to do so, they added, the strikes will be further intensified.
Addressing the gathering at the Hockey Chowk in Quetta, Alliance leaders Abdul Malik Kakar, Dad Muhammad Baloch and others said that the strikes will continue until the provincial government does not concede to their demands.
They said that the government must not harbor the illusion that we will eventually pack up and go home. If our demands are not met, we will surround the chief minister house and employ other options at our disposal to press the government. They said that the provincial government will be responsible for all the consequences.
Thousands of government employees have flooded the streets of Quetta for the past 9 days, demanding the government to grant the 25% pay raise promised by the federal government few weeks earlier. The protestors have blocked key highways in Quetta and throughout Balochistan in protest, saying that they will not end the strikes until their demands are not met.
The Balochistan government has reasoned that protestors’ demands cannot be met. Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan has said that if the promised pay raise is granted, the government will have to bear an additional 10-15 billion rupees burden, which it cannot afford. He said that he is unwilling to make the promises knowing that his government cannot implement them.
The CM offered employment as a solution, but the protestors are adamant. They say that they will not end the protest until the government concedes to their demands.