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Hundreds of children protest in Balochistan’s Gwadar in support of basic rights

INTERNATIONAL DESK: In solidarity with protestors staging a sit-in against the unnecessary check posts and fishing trawlers in Gwadar district of Balochistan province, hundreds of children took to the streets on Sunday, local media reported.

Carrying placards and banners inscribed with demands “Gwadar ko haq do” (Give rights to Gwadar), the children marched on various roads of the city and later joined the main sit-in, Dawn reported.

Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Hidayat Ullah Baloch, who led the rally, criticised the elected representatives of Gwadar and Makran and asked them to join the sit-in or resign from the assembly as they had been elected to represent them, the Pakistani publication reported.

He said the representatives who did not visit their constituency should be included in a list of missing persons.

Maulana Baloch said that despite the deployment of various security agencies, hundreds of illegal trawlers were involved in illegal fishing in Balochistan’s waters, depriving local fishermen of their livelihood.

He asked the authorities concerned to take steps for stopping illegal fishing immediately and seal all liquor stores in the province. “Otherwise people will destroy them,” Dawn reported.

Further, Maulana Baloch called for the recovery of all disappeared people and said if they were involved in any crime they must be produced before a court of law.

“If our demands are not met, we will continue the sit-in for 127 days in order to break the record of Imran Khan who staged his sit-in for 126 days,” he said.

Balochistan is a resource-rich but least developed province of Pakistan where a movement for freedom has been ongoing for the past several decades. Many Balochs believe that the region was independent before 1947 and was forcibly occupied by Pakistan.

While successive governments have promised to criminalise enforced disappearance, none has taken concrete steps and the practice continues with impunity. Recently, fighting between the Pakistan security forces and Baloch insurgents have intensified in the region.

In its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights, the US State Department has highlighted significant human rights issues in Pakistan, including unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government and forced disappearance of Pashtun, Sindhi and Baloch human rights activists. (ANI)