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Politicians In Pakistan Province Unite To Protest Kidnappings

QUETTA, Pakistan -- Political leaders in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan have announced plans to protest against kidnappings.

On December 28, an all-parties conference in the provincial capital Quetta decided that lawmakers and politicians from Balochistan will protest in front of the national parliament in Islamabad on January 1.

Provincial Information Minister Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal told journalists that the protest will continue until Arbab Abdul Zahir Kasi, a senior kidnapped Balochistan politician, has been recovered.

Kasi was kidnapped from Quetta in late October.

He is a senior leader of the secular Pashtun Awami National Party.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in Balochistan.

Most kidnapping victims are doctors and businessmen.

Balochistan has been struggling to contend with a separatist insurgency, sectarian violence against minority Shi'ite Muslims, and natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods.