Local fisherfolk have already given up some of their regular fishing spots due to development work of the port. Now the unequal competition with Chinese
trawlers has added to their difficulty.
People are also protesting against unnecessary checkpoints on main roads, severe shortage of water
Who is co-ordinating the protests?
The protesters have rallied under Gwadar Ko Huqooq Do Tehreek (Rights to Gwadar movement). Interestingly, a Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Rehman is leading the protest. Jamat-e-Islami is seen as traditional ally of Pakistan’s
all-powerful military establishment.
Why is Gwadar important for China?
Gwadar forms important node in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multibillion-dollar project that is the flaghship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Gwadar will be connected to China’s
Xinjiang province through network of roads and raliroad in Pakistan. China has undertaken these projects as well.
China lacks direct access
to Arabian Sea. It will be able to do so via Gwadar. Chinese goods, and even oil supplies will then be able to bypass sea lanes in Indian Ocean dominated by Indian Navy and other powers.
India opposes CPEC and holds it illegal as some of the projects have proposed to be implemented in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
What is different about Gwadar protests this time?
The first thing is how huge they are. The second difference
is the diversity of participation. Women have turned up for protests as well. In conservative society of Balochistan, this is being seen as an indication that all sections of the society are angry about Chinese presence.
How has Pakistan government reacted to Gwadar protests?
Minister Imran Khan has assured ‘strong action against illegal fishing’.
“I have taken notice of the very legitimate demands
of the hardworking fishermen of Gwadar. Will be taking strong action against illegal fishing by trawlers & will also speak to CM Balochistan,” he tweeted on Sunday.