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Pakistani families on march for missing relatives Hope to gain public support and pressure government

KARACHI, Dec 14, (AFP): Relatives of people who have gone missing from Pakistan’s troubled southwest Baluchistan province set off on a gruelling 1200-km march from the port city of Karachi to Islamabad on Saturday, hoping to recover their loved ones. The more than two dozen men, women and children had camped in the commercial hub for nearly three weeks after walking 700 kms from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan where a violent insurgency against the Pakistani state has raged since 2004. The latest leg of their journey stretches nearly 750 miles from Karachi, which lies on the Arabian Sea, to the capital city in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Their hope is to gain public support and pressure the government into freeing relatives who have disappeared allegedly at the hands of Pakistan’s security services. “Our main objective is to secure release of our loved ones but unfortunately we have not received any help from the government so far,” Muhammad Qadir Baloch, leader of the march told AFP on Saturday. Baluch, 70, who also heads a non governmental organisation, Voice of Missing Baluch Persons, said: “Our next destination is Islamabad where we will finalise our future course of action.” Tired of waiting for justice — or even news of the fate of their brothers, sons, and husbands — the men and women undertook the unprecedented march Quetta to Karachi.

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