The Balochistan National Party (BNP) on Sunday launched a long march against critical issues facing the province, including rising terrorism and the continuing issue of Baloch missing persons. The party, however, dismissed the threats of arrests and other actions by the state.
Speaking to local media in Watt ahead of the march, BNP chief Akhtar Mengal explained that the march was a protest against those armed groups who operate in the region with impunity to kidnap people, seek ransom and dump their defaced bodies on the roads.
"The state is responsible for protecting the lives and property of its people," he said, adding that the lines get blurred when the state either creates or supports groups harming the people.
He added that the purpose of the long march was also to recover the missing persons of the province.
Mengal, who has served multiple times as a member of the national assembly, said that the state had threatened them with arrests if they pushed ahead with their long march.
For this purpose, he said that the government is digging up old cases to create a cause for arresting him and other members of the movement.
"We are ready for arrests," he said.
Asked that since Nawaz Sharif had returned and there was a greater possibility for elections and that these were tactics to stop him from contesting in elections, Mengal said that the state was afraid of the BNP's performance and track record in the national assembly that was forcing it to adopt such tactics.
"They conspired to stop us from the elections in 2018 as well," he said, adding that the party was robbed of seats which they had won.
"If we would have got those seats, we would have shown them," he said, adding that the people of Balochistan know who has represented them in Parliament.
Asked that if he is arrested, would the party adopt the method opted by Imran Khan or some other democratic movement?
Mengal said that this is not the first time they are facing arrests, noting that their members were arrested during National Awami Party (NAP), during the martial law of Field Marshal Ayub Khan and General Pervez Musharraf, the more they try to suppress us the more we will become prominent, he said.