Thursday, September 29, 2022

Protests against Chinese influence in Balochistan’s Gwadar rock the region

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Thousands of people have been protesting and staging a sit-in against the unnecessary check posts and Chinese fishing trawlers in the Gwadar district of Balochistan province. According to Express Tribune, the sit-in has entered the fifth day on Monday. The protest was started by locals under Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, Provincial General Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Balochistan. They demand removals of all unnecessary checkpoints and a stop on Chinese deep-sea trawlers from fishing in the area because it was causing huge losses to the local fishermen.

A delegation sent by Jam Kamal Khan Aylani, Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Balochistan province returned empty-handed as the protesters refused to end their protest. The protestors have announced that the sit-in will continue till the government resolves these issues.

In August, hundreds of people in Pakistan’s Gwadar staged a demonstration against illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers. In 2015, China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in Pakistan worth USD 46 billion, of which Balochistan is an integral part. It would link Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China’s western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.

The Balochs opposed China’s increasing involvement in the province. The CPEC has not benefited the people of Balochistan while people of other provinces enjoy the fruits of the mega project. This has led to widespread protests as the Chinese are viewed as encroachers who are squeezing out all the wealth from the region.

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