Thu, 09 Feb 2023

Gwadar [Pakistan], December 8 (ANI): Protests continue in Gwadar against illegal deep-sea fishing under the banner of "Give Gwadar its rights," Geo-politik reported. The harassment of local residents at security checkpoints demonstrates the frustration of people against the "failures of the promised development in the region."Protesters believe that their livelihood has been taken from them and they feel abandoned. Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman, Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami Baluchistan, has expressed solidarity with the protesting fishermen, as per the Geo-politik report. Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman has said that 90 per cent of the population in Gwadar comprises fishermen.

Some activists have claimed that the fishermen communities in coastal parts of Balochistan have not been given proper compensation. Javed Hussain Shah, an Islamabad-based scholar of BRI projects in Pakistan said, "Gwadar's people have shown their frustration over the empty dreams Beijing had sold to them at the expense of their gains."Along coasts in Balochistan, multiple subsistence level fishing communities have lived for centuries and these people have been living close to the poverty line, as per the Geo-politik report. Many of these fishing communities were shifted to nearby villages before and during the construction of the Gwadar projects. The people were relocated to nearby villages as their own villages came under the areas marked for the port.

Fishermen who do not agree to give up their ancestral land were forcefully shifted. The relocation has snatched fishermen's power to negotiate a suitable price for their land and further moved them towards poverty, as per the news report.

The relocation has resulted in protests and blockades in Karachi and Gwadar. People are afraid of the continuation of forced relocation in already saturated villages which does not have the space and readiness to welcome and accommodate them. It has further enhanced anger and resentment.

As per the Geo-politik report, people also showcase resentment in Gwadar as they every day need to prove their identity by repeatedly showing their identity proofs to enter the city. The reluctance makes the people believe that they will not get their share of development funds.

KB Firaq, President of the Gwadar Educational Welfare Society, said, "The Gwadar fishermen are not allowed near the port boundaries. Thousands of fishermen have been asked to leave the harbour," Geo-Politik reported.

The situation is further aggravated due to the issuance of fishing licenses to Chinese trawlers by the government. The government's move has badly impacted their livelihood and it has resulted in discontent. Activists have stressed that roads in Gwadar are not being developed while roads in Punjab are being developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Meanwhile, the federal government has not been making efforts to reassure locals. The government is claiming that the transport routes are being developed to generate economic activity along the corridors and development will be there in the region after the construction of dams and hospitals.

People had hopes of Gwadar port and planned the development of a surrounding city. However, progress has been slower in comparison to energy and infrastructure projects across Pakistan. As per the report, Gwadar port is predicted to become Pakistan's busiest port after it gets into operation. This prediction has resulted in people calling on the government to address their demands before international companies begin investing in the port.

Notably, Gwadar projects are still in their earliest phases. A number of schemes worth USD 2 billion continue to remain incomplete, which includes electricity provision, as per the news report. The region is dependent on Iran for electricity and local residents have raised complaints regarding losing access to clean water. (ANI)

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