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Arrests Made In Pakistan After Protesters Throw Tomatoes From Iran Onto Road

Men unload sacks of onions from a donkey cart amid a flooded marketplace after heavy rainfall in Lahore. Farmers in Balochistan have protested the import of tomatoes and onions from Iran, saying their own crop is ready for the market.

Authorities in the Kalat district of Pakistan's Balochistan Province arrested two protesters after vehicles carrying imported tomatoes from Iran were stopped and looted.

The Kalat district Commissioner Daud Khaliji told Mashaal Radio on September 10 that authorities investigating the incident had arrested two people so far.

Protesters intercepted a vehicle loaded with tomatoes from Iran and started looting the trucks, throwing boxes of tomatoes on the road. The arrests occurred after a video of the protest went viral on social media.

The protesters, chanting slogans against the government, said they would not allow tomato imports from Iran. They said their own crop was ready for shipment to the market.

Several farmers and growers also gathered in the town of Mangochar and blocked the Quetta-Karachi national highway with boulders and barricades, suspending traffic.

The Balochistan Farmers Association head Haji Abdul Rehman told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that local growers would face significant financial losses amid imports of tomatoes and other vegetables from Iran and Afghanistan as their crop would not fetch the right price.

He demanded that government open the roads for farmers so they can bring their products to the market. The farmers say they can meet the demand for vegetables in the country if roads and facilities are provided to them.

Businessmen who trade with Iran and Afghanistan on the other hand expressed their sadness over the incident and said it should have been prevented.

Several trucks loaded with tomatoes and onions reached Pakistan through the Taftan and Chaman border crossing from Iran and Afghanistan, helping to lower the prices of both vegetables in the local market.

The government had arranged for the import of onions and tomatoes from Afghanistan and Iran to meet a shortage. Onion and tomato prices went through the roof after flash floods washed away large swaths of crops, prompting the government to allow imports from neighboring countries to lower costs.