The citizens of Gwadar port city of Pakistan have staged massive protests against the government’s adoption of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI.
The China Communist Party (CCP) and Pakistan signed a 40-year lease agreement for Gwadar Port in April 2017. China Overseas Port Holdings will build and operate a deep-water port in Gwadar following the contract. Gwadar is a port city on the southwest coast of Balochistan province in Pakistan.
Local news media reported that residents of the province had constantly protested against the constructions introduced onto their land via China’s BRI from Nov. 15 until the present.
The peaceful demonstrations were joined by citizens of Gwadar, Turbat, Pishkan, Zaman, Prada, Amala, Pazny cities, and other areas.
WION reported that they called for redundant security checkpoints to be removed, drinking water and power to be made available, illegal Chinese trawlers to be eliminated from the Makran shore, and the border with Iran to be reopened from Panjgur to Gwadar.
The residents alleged that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had deprived them of water and power supplies. And the Pakistan government was complicit with China for letting the trawlers exploit their fishing resources in the southwestern Makran coast.
The local leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman, also alleged that the security checkpoints had disrupted people’s lives.
Rehman told WION, “on the borders (near Iran), thousands of Baloch families are facing restrictions and are unable to do business. There are thousands of security check posts which are creating a hindrance.”
A resident told Pakistan’s largest news agency, Li Ming Pao, that “we made our voices heard: Gwadar belongs to us first, and we don’t want to be ignored anymore.”
Meanwhile, local leader Herman contended that “the people of Gwadar have been deceived by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Port of Gwadar. Gwadar has not benefited from it at all. If the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Port of Gwadar are not beneficial to the country, locals, then they don’t have to be here.”
The resentment among Balochistan people towards the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was only escalating.
Although Gwadar is an essential hub of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, locals mainly make a living from fishing (more than 70% of the population). While people still live in poverty and suffer from increased water and electricity supplies scarcity, they have not seen the economic prosperity the CCP initially promised.