Protest rages in Harnai over killing of Pashtun activist by Pak forces

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Protests have been raging in Balochistan’s district Harnai for the past two days against the alleged killing of a Pashtun activist by the Pakistani security forces. The protest was taken out at Khost on the Quetta-Harnai highway where hundreds of activists and workers of the Awami National Party (ANP), Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and the National Democratic Movement (NDM) participated. The protestors condemned the incident and demanded justice for the slain activist.

According to the details, the Pakistani security forces opened indiscriminate fire on a group of peaceful, unarmed protestors on Sunday in Balochistan’s district Harnai, leaving one dead and five others critically wounded. The slain individual was identified as Khaliqdad Babar, a renowned Pashtun activist and member of the Awami National Party. His killing sparked outrage in Harnai – hundreds of protestors took to the roads and blocked the main Quetta-Harnai highway. Activists on social media denounced the killing of Babar as “brutality” and demanded the perpetrators, the Pakistani forces, be given the comeuppance.

The Pakistani security forces were targeted in an attack by the Baloch Liberation Army in Harnai on the eve of Pakistan’s National Day, reportedly leaving six soldiers dead and numerous others wounded. The ISPR confirmed the attack but contested the death toll, claiming that only two soldiers were killed. Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and offered his condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.

Local sources from Harnai say that following the attack, the panicked Pakistani forces opened indiscriminate fire on the civilian settlements where at least two civilians were wounded. Activists, political workers and hundreds of civilians took the roads the next day in protest against the indiscriminate shooting. The Pakistani forces responded to the protestors with live fire, leaving one ANP activist dead and five protestors wounded.

The locals again took to the streets on Monday, carrying banners, placards and black flags and demanded justice for the slain ANP activist and the seven wounded protestors. Political leaders, activists and workers also participated in the protest and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice.

The leadership of the ANP and other parties addressed the gathering, demanding justice and warning that the protests would go on indefinitely if the officials did not comply with the demands. ANP leader Asghar Khan, who was among the addressees in the Harnai protest, raised the issue in the Balochistan Assembly and submitted a motion to adjourn the ongoing session. He said that the Pakistani forces shot and killed a peaceful activist, but they have failed to apprehend a single “terrorist” in those areas.

ANP leader and Balochistan Food Minister Zmarak Khan Achakzai also raised the matter in the assembly and revealed that the FIR on the incident had not been registered. “Can’t we talk about our rights? Can we not talk about Gwadar? The people of Harnai have the first right over it. The resources of Balochistan are the right of its people. We are followers of Bacha Khan [so] we believe in peaceful struggle. There should be justice for our martyrs,” the provincial minister said.

NDM Chief and chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs, MNA Mohsin Dawar, also condemned the incident on Sunday. Dawar said in a tweet that such “incidents keep happening because there are no legal consequences for the perpetrators.”

ANP leader Samar Haroon Bilour grief over the killing of Khaliqdad Babar. In a tweet featuring the photo of the slain activists, Bilour wrote: “RIP young man ! Your parents did not deserve to hear this news today.”

It should be noted that neither the Pakistani army nor the Balochistan government officials have commented on the incident.


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