QUETTA - A shutter-down strike was observed in Baloch-dominated parts of Balochistan on Sunday against the military operation in earthquake-stricken Awaran district.

The Baloch National Front – an alliance of different Baloch hardliner nationalist parties – and student organisations had given the strike call, against the military drive in parts of Awaran district, including Mashkay tehsil. Markets, shopping centres and businesses remained closed in Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar, Pasni, Turbat, Mand, Hub, Kharan, Basima, Panjgour and other towns. Traffic also thinned out, while closure of restaurants and medical stores inconvenienced the general public.

Local administrations had taken tight security measures to avert any unwanted happening. Luckily, no unpleasant incident was reported from any of the said areas.

BNF alleged that security forces were picking up innocent youth under the pretext of relief works, due to which people had been compelled to migrate to other places.  Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs Sarfraz Bugti outrightly dispelled the BNF claim, saying, “No single soldier is engaged in any operation.”

Bugti told newsmen the other day there was no reality in the claims about an operation in Awaran.  Awaran district, which is considered one of the insurgency-hit districts of Balochistan, was badly hit by a massive earthquake on September 24th that left more than 500 people dead and over 35,000 families homeless.

Following the quake, army and paramilitary troops entered the district to rescue the affected people and provide them with relief.

The arrival of security forces was strongly opposed by militants. A clash occurred between militants and security forces on September 25.