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Disabled People Rally In Pakistan Tribal Region For Better Living Conditions

Dozens of disabled people in northwestern Pakistan rallied at a Pakistani border crossing with Afghanistan for a third straight day on February 11 to demand jobs, free health care, and education for their children.

The demonstrators launched a sit-in at the Angoor Adda border crossing in the South Waziristan tribal district on February 9, vowing to continue their protest until their demands for benefits for disabled people are met.

Protest leader Din Muhammad told RFE/RL by telephone that around 250 disabled persons were participating in the protest.

Muhammad said 160 of the protesters lost their limbs in mortar shell firing from across the border, landmine blasts, and fighting between the Pakistani security forces and the Taliban.

The others were affected by polio, a highly infectious, water-borne disease that can cause irreversible paralysis.

Bashir Khan, the deputy commissioner of South Waziristan’s main town of Wana, told RFE/RL that the authorities would address only reasonable demands made by the protesters.

He claimed some disabled people were seeking permission to conduct cross-border smuggling activities and that the government would not accept that.

Separately, hundreds of Wana residents ended their sit-in protest in front of a military camp following assurances by local officials that high-speed Internet connections would soon become operational in South Waziristan.

The protest was launched late last month after the authorities failed to provide 3G/4G Internet connections to the tribal region despite a promise made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.