Pakistan: Women-led protests reach capital

On Thursday, in Islamabad, Pakistani police utilised tear gas and water cannons to quell demonstrations led by women. Mahrang Baloch, the leader of the protests, was among the at least 200 individuals detained as they entered the capital.

Weeks have passed since demonstrators began demonstrating across the nation in opposition to the alleged enforced disappearances of men in the province of Balochistan.

Relatives assert that the demise of a Baloch man occurred during police custody when he was fatally shot, which incited this unrest. Ms. Baloch reported on social media, at approximately 02:30 local time (21:30GMT) that the Islamabad police are "attacking" the march.

Protesters encountered barriers upon entering the Red Zone of Islamabad, which comprises legislative, executive, and judicial buildings, which were erected by police personnel armed with batons and donning protective headgear.

Social media posts feature videos that depict officers frantically loading protesters into police vehicles. Many are observed sobbing and shrieking, and a number are positioned on the ground with obvious injuries.

The term "enforced disappearances" in Balochistan, the largest province of Pakistan, pertains to unannounced apprehensions purportedly executed by intelligence agencies. These disappearances elude judicial investigation and lack government recognition. Students, journalists, political workers, and human rights activists have been named as alleged victims.

Decades-long accusations date back to the inception of the Balochistan nationalist movement in the early 2000s. Throughout the years, a significant number of Baloch women have endeavoured to obtain justice for their absent family members and to draw international attention to the issue.

Authorities working to combat terrorism were able to catch Balach Mola Bakhsh, who was 24 years old, on October 29 due to the most recent occurrence. The officials stated that he had been arrested in possession of explosives after he had been detained for close to a month.

The police announced on November 23, the day before Baksh's bail hearing, that four "terrorists" from a "prohibited group," including Baksh, had been slain in a gunfight with police in the Balochistani city of Turbat. His family refutes the terrorist allegation and asserts that he passed away while in police custody.

On the day that Bakhsh was rumoured to have been murdered, demonstrations began. The leaders of the protests have referred to it as the "march against Baloch genocide." The demonstrators are demanding that extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances be put to a halt, and that those who are allegedly responsible for the extrajudicial executions of Baloch youth be held accountable for their actions.

Before she was taken into custody, Ms. Baloch gave an interview to the sources in which she stated, "We began our march more than 26 days ago." We are the numerous mothers, sisters, and daughters of men who have either vanished or been murdered. Our numbers are in the hundreds of thousands.

We are not going to stop, despite the fact that [the government] will try whatever to stop us. We are all peaceful protestors, and we will continue to be peaceful even if they demonstrate their inability to be peaceful towards us.