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Shutdowns, strikes mark Bugti's death anniversary across Balochistan

All government and private schools, shops, trading centers and commercial establishments in Quetta remained closed. PHOTO: SHEZAD BALOCH FOR EXPRESS
QUETTA: Balochistan commemorated the death anniversary of leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, killed in a military operation in the Bugti hills in August 2006, by observing a complete shutdown and wheel jam strike throughout the province.
Business and trade activities in most of Balochistan, including Quetta, Khuzdar, Gwadar and other districts, came to standstill due to the joint-strike called by the Baloch Republican Party (BRP), the Baloch National Front (BNF) and the Jamhoori Waten Party (JWP). The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and student organisations supported the strike.
All government and private schools, shops, trading centres and commercial establishments in Quetta remained closed, while traffic was thin on the roads.
In Dera Bugti, militants tried to bomb a patrolling vehicle of the police. An IED planted beside the road exploded after a police mobile passed by. No one was hurt in the attack.
The Balochistan government adopted strict security measures across the province with a huge deployment of Frontier Corps (FC) troops, local police,  and contingents of the Balochistan Constabulary and Balochistan Levies. Security personnel patrolled all sensitive areas to maintain public order, the Balochistan Home Department said in a statement.
Observers believe that Bugti’s killing changed the course of political events in Balochistan as ever-increasing amounts of people continue to join the rebels in the hills, or became sympathetic to the Baloch cause.
Nawab Bugti, the symbol of a struggle
Despite his death, Nawab Bugti continues to have a larger-than-life presence for the Baloch. He fought for Baloch rights, people believe, and participated in the long struggle against ‘One Unit’ — an earlier policy that wiped out West Pakistan’s provincial boundaries. The Baloch believe the restoration of the Pakistan’s provinces, Balochistan’s territorial integrity in effect, was in a large part because of him.
Bugti’s struggles for provincial integrity extended beyond his own as well, much to the ire of the state. He extended unqualified support to the Six Points of Awami League in then East Pakistan.
Bugti held various positions of power in his home province, including federal minister and governor. He headed his own Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) until his death.
He was influential, and his ideas shaped many of Balochistan’s crop of leaders and citizens today. He thought that maximum autonomy was the only solution to the federal issues of Pakistan and smaller provinces should be given more powers and rights with little intervention from the federal Government and its department. The 18th amendment, in effect, reflects that vision.

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