As part of the ongoing political reconciliation in Balochistan, more than 300 suspected militants laid down arms before the government and security forces on Saturday.
The militants, who reportedly belonged to various banned groups, surrendered before Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa during a ceremony held at the Balochistan Assembly hall.
Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti and other high-level officials were also present on the occasion.
The suspected militants, including 17 commanders, vowed to work for the peace and development of the country while laying down arms.
Waving Pakistani flags during the ceremony, the men said they had been misled by some elements to serve their personal agendas at the cost of poor people.
Appreciating their overtures for peace, Chief Minister Zehri said the reconciliation process will continue despite all odds.
“We welcome you all,” he told the crowd.
Zehri said the country has a “big heart” to accept those whose hands were coloured with the blood of innocent people.
“Now it is your turn to struggle for stability and development of the country,” he said.
The fighters who gave up their weapons were involved in subversive activities for more than a decade in various parts of Balochistan, security officials who declined to be named told DawnNews.
“Some elements were threatening us not to surrender,” Dur Muhammad, a former militant from Naseerabad said. Another militant commander from Harnai also shared the same information.
The Balochistan reconciliation process was launched by former chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch a few years ago. So far, 1800 Ferraris have surrendered since the process was initiated, Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar told DawnNews.
The largest province of the country by area, Balochistan is home to a low-level insurgency by ethnic Baloch separatists. Militants linked to domestic and foreign terrorist groups also operate in the region.
The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.