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Pakistan: Violent protests continue in Chaman, 20 injured and 45 arrested

A screengrab of video showing police attacking protestors in Chaman, Pakistan (Photo/X)

Chaman, a border town in Pakistan’s Balochistan, remains in turmoil as violent protests and clashes between protesters and law enforcement agencies continued for a third consecutive day, resulting in injuries to 20 people, including eight security personnel, and the arrest of 45 individuals, as reported by Dawn.

The protest and clash incidents have also forced the suspension of passenger train services between Quetta and Chaman due to security concerns.

Despite assurances from tribal elders, protesters expanded their demonstrations beyond designated areas, targeting public and private properties while wielding sticks and stones. This unrest stems from discontent over government regulations restricting border crossings to individuals with valid passports and visas, a departure from previous practices allowing passage based on identity cards, as reported by Dawn.

Consequently, business activities halted, with banks and government offices shuttered, exacerbating economic strains. Notably, the National Bank relocated staff to ensure continuity amid the chaos.

Security forces responded to the escalating violence with tear gas, seeking to disperse protesters attacking law enforcement personnel. Despite arrests and law enforcement efforts, the situation remains tense, prompting a stern warning against highway blockades, preserving vital transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Efforts to quell the unrest through dialogue have thus far yielded limited success, with protesters demanding the release of detained leaders and a resolution to their grievances.

Meanwhile, Balochistan’s Chief Minister Mir Safraz Bugti chaired a high-level meeting to address the crisis, emphasizing the imperative of upholding state authority while advocating for dialogue to address underlying grievances. However, attacks on security forces and property damage remain non-negotiable.

In solidarity with the Chaman protesters, political parties staged demonstrations, advocating for the acceptance of demonstrators’ demands and condemning the heavy-handed response to protests.

Simultaneously, calls for a parliamentary committee in the National Assembly to address the situation underscored the urgency of dialogue and de-escalation. PTI leader Asad Qaisar appealed for a compassionate approach, advocating for dialogue over violence.

Amidst the unrest, the Foreign Office reiterated visa regulations for border movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, emphasising the need for strict adherence to visa requirements, Dawn reported.