The family members of the victims of the Ziarat incident have said that the government officials are not “serious” about their demand for a judicial inquiry into the alleged fake encounter of the Baloch missing persons in Ziarat. They said that the officials tried to strong-arm us into ending the protest by making it clear that they would not approach us until we give up.

The families of the victims of the Ziarat incident and Baloch activists have been protesting in front of the Governor’s House in Quetta for the past few weeks. They are demanding a thorough judicial inquiry into the Ziarat incident and an assurance that the Baloch missing persons will be safely released and not executed in “fake encounters.” The protest began on July 21 and continued through the stormy weather that wreaked havoc throughout Quetta and other areas of Balochistan. The protestors are adamant that they will not budge until their demands are met.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, VBMP leader Sammi Deen Baloch said that political parties, human rights groups and even the state institutions agree that the “enforced disappearance” is the most sensitive issue facing Balochistan today. She said that we have been protesting for the past 26 days, but to no avail. She said that the judicial inquiry launched into the Ziarat incident was nothing more than a charade – the families of the victims were never contacted, nor any DNA tests were conducted to confirm the identity of the victims. She said that this negligent behaviour shows that the officials are not serious about our demands.

She said that the government is yet to entertain our other demand, the assurance that Baloch missing persons will be safely released and not killed in “fake encounters.” Sammi Deen Baloch said that two government representatives, Zamrak Khan Achakzai and Shakila Naveed Dehwar, visited us thrice and tried to strong-arm us into ending the protest. She said the officials told us that our demands would be seriously considered only if we end the protest. She said this is an “injustice” – we will not end the protest until we are fully assured that our demands will be fulfilled.

The VBMP leader said that we are carrying out rallies, distributing pamphlets and writing graffiti on the walls to inform and mobilize the general public. She said we will set up camps in different areas of Quetta on August 16 and launch a rally on August 17.

The National Party also echoed the sentiment in a media statement, saying that the Prime Minister of Pakistan should meet and negotiate with the protestors. The party appreciated that despite being battered by the turbulent weather, the protestors have not given up.

The National Party said that the Ziarat incident has laid bare the horrible reality of Balochistan – the peace and security have been disrupted and the incendiary government policies and actions are only fanning the flames. The party said the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, must get involved and personally negotiate with the protestors to assure them that their demands will be fulfilled.

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