September 4th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz & Hassan Raza
As the media continues to black out the news, anguish among protestors in Balochistan is rising, as dozens of cities in the province have joined in with massive demonstrations and the Pashtun belt observes a complete shutter-down strike on Saturday September 4. The demos are being held in solidarity with the participants of the ongoing sit-in at the Ziarat crossroads which itself has been ongoing since 10 days, but has not been mentioned even once in the mainstream media.
On Friday, several cities of Balochistan including Quetta, Ziarat, Hernai, Shahrag, Sanjavi, Pashin, Qilla Saifullah, Muslim Bagh, Loralai, Zhob, and Chaman among others saw huge protest rallies that highlighted the plight of the demonstrators at Ziarat – the Ziarat sit-in began on August 26 after three Levies personnel, Naib Risaldaar Mudassir Kakar, Risaldaar Major Zaman Kakar, and Sepoy Zain-ul-Hassan Kakar were martyred in an IED attack on their vehicles near the Mangi Dam construction site.
“My brother Naib Risaldaar Mudassir was in charge of the area where the incident occurred. He was informed by a local contractor that some heavily armed local militants were threatening the laborers in the area. My brother immediately sprang into action and contacted nearby Levies Stations and senior officials of the civil administration,” explains Muzamil Kakar, the brother of one of the martyred Levies personnel.
“Mudassir along with his Major Zaman Kakar (who was also martyred in the incident) also approached the Deputy Commissioner of the area who assured them of back-up from the Frontier Corps and ordered them to begin an operation against the militants,” continues Muzamil. “But when my brother and his superior went to the Frontier Corps for help they refused to say that they have not received orders to carry out an operation against the militants,” explains Muzamil.
Even after refusal from the FC, the levies party plucked up their courage and decided to engage with the militants face to face. After a firefight which lasted for about one whole night, the party ran out of bullets and decided to return to base to replenish their supplies. It was here on their way back when their vehicle hit an IED planted on the side of the road, severely injuring them and later resulting in the martyrdom of the three personnel.
“The levies do not have enough manpower or enough firepower to deal with such heavily armed threats. The FC knew about the incident yet they choose to do nothing, they did not fire a single bullet. If they cannot fight militants then what is the point of having so many of them in the out province,” asks Muzamil.
Fatah Kakar, PTM coordinator of Qilla Saifullah, and one of the organizers of the province-wide protest rallies, says, “We have so many FC personnel in Balochistan who are a drain on the provincial budget. But instead of fighting against militants, they focus on harassing common citizens. The public is now tired of them and wants them out.”
The participants of the sit-in have demanded the formation of a judicial commission to look into the real cause of the tragedy and have also called on the provincial government to kick out the “useless” FC from Ziarat and Hernai. The protestors have threatened to move their sit-in to the provincial capital Quetta if their demands are not taken seriously by the government.