(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
More than 300 Baloch separatist militants have surrendered over the past few months, Pakistani government officials said, after a ceremony to mark the downing of guns and militants' return to civilian life.
The surrenders are part of government efforts to end a decade-long insurgency in the southwestern Baluchistan province by offering amnesties and financial rewards to soldiers and commanders to help them re-integrate into the society.
In a high-profile ceremony on the lawn of the Baluchistan provincial assembly in the western city of Quetta, the regional capital, some 313 militants from three separatist movements handed over weapons to Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, the Chief Minister of the province.
"I will hug all that who believe in integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan but will not tolerate (those) who will challenge the writ of the State," Zehri said at the ceremony on Saturday.
Pakistani government officials say about 2,000 militants have surrendered over the past 18 months. In April, the government held a similar ceremony where about 400 militants handed over their guns.