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Balochistan budget session delayed as opposition continues protest, locks up assembly gates

Balochistan budget session delayed as opposition continues protest, locks up assembly gates

Opposition lawmakers and their supporters blocked access to the Balochistan Assembly premises on Friday to prevent the presentation of the provincial budget for the new fiscal year.

Scheduled for 4pm, the budget session could not commence as opposition members locked up the assembly gates and prevented administrative officials from opening the gates. The opposition members continued their protest inside and outside the assembly building.

Following the administration's failure to open the assembly building, negotiations were underway between Quetta Deputy Commissioner Aurangzeb Badini and opposition leader Advocate Malik Sikandar Khan.

Meanwhile, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said in a statement that no constituency had been ignored in the budget proposals. He added that multiple development projects such as Sariab Road had been launched in opposition constituencies.

The opposition members, comprising lawmakers from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami party and independent candidates, have been protesting for four days over the alleged neglect of their constituencies in the budget.

A day earlier, opposition parties had blocked national highways passing through many cities and towns of Balochistan, including Quetta, Chagai, Washuk, Kharan and Nushki in protest against what they called the government’s act of ignoring their proposed development projects in the provincial budget.

They had also announced that they would lay siege to the assembly building on Friday (today) and would not allow any MPA to enter the building and present the budget for 2021-22 if their proposed development projects were not included in the provincial Annual Development Programme.

All kinds of traffic, including passenger coaches, trucks carrying Afg­han transit goods and Nato supplies had remained suspended for at least sev­en hours. Hundreds of trucks, coac­hes, buses and other vehicles were str­anded at various entry and exit points of Balochistan.

The protesters had chanted slogans against the provincial government and alleged that non-elected politicians were being granted funds and members of the provincial assembly from the opposition were being ignored just because they did not belong to the ruling party. They demanded equal funds for all districts of Balochistan.

This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.

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