Rs584.1bn Balochistan budget unveiled amid Opp demos

Baluchistan assembly
Rs584.1bn Balochistan budget unveiled amid Opp demos

QUETTA: Balochistan on Friday proposed a Rs584.1 billion budget for the next fiscal year that carries a hefty development stimulus of Rs237.2bn and resource shortfall of Rs84.6bn amid rare violent protest by the opposition.

The opposition lawmakers from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Balochistan National PartyMengal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and independent members along with their supporters have been camping outside the assembly building for the last few days in protest against the provincial coalition government led by chief minister Jam Kamal Alyani for its refusal to allocate development funds for their constituencies in the next year`s budget.

The opposition parties had blocked national highways passing through many cities and towns of Balochistan, including Quetta,Chagai, Washuk, Kharan and Nushki, in protest against the government on Thursday. They had announced that they would not allow the government to present the budget unless their suggested development schemes were made part of the provincial Annual Development Programme for the next year.

The budget session was delayed by at least two hours because of the protests as the opposition lawmakers had locked the assembly gates from inside to prevent the treasury members from entering the building. The police had to break open the gate of the MPAs Hostel using an armoured vehicle to let the treasury lawmakers enter the building.

Three opposition members of the assembly were reported to have suffered injuries when they tried to impede the police vehicle from breaking open the gate. They were identified as Ahmed Nawaz Baloch, Babu Rahim and Abdul Wahid Siddiqui. Later, police clashed with the protesters outside the assembly as they refused to clear the premises.

The area outside the assembly presented the picture of a battleground for some time as police used batons and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd to open the main entrance. A few unidentified activists of the opposition parties vandalised the assembly building and attacked the chief minister and some of his cabinet colleagues.

Bushra Rind, the chief minister`s adviser and parliamentary secretary on information,     suffered minor injuries. MPA Sana Baloch said the opposition lawmakers would meet to decide whether to lodge an FIR against the provincial government over the police action against the protesters. Several hundred policemen had been deployed in and around the assembly and all roads leading to it were closed by parking heavy trucks and erecting fences, causing a massive traffic logjam in the provincial capital.