What does Gwadar hold for common Gwadarites?
MAY 3, 2018
The coastal city of Gwadar will benefit almost 63 countries of the world through the development of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A significant part of the world will strengthen it’s economy because of Gwadar.
CPEC is a multidimensional unprecedented project. It provides economic opportunities to China, Central Asian, Afghanistan, Russia and East African countries like Kenya and Sudan. The project will bring all of these countries closer to each other in political, diplomatic, and economic terms. The CPEC route starts from China and ends in Gwadar. CPEC’s development in Gwadar will bring countless opportunities for Pakistan’s prosperity.
Gwadar is going to be an international megacity and the economic hub of the region. It’s port is fully operational and ready for all levels of economic activities through CPEC. Housing schemes are also being developed in Gwadar as a result of CPEC along with the construction of a five star hotel for the comfort of the visiting dignitaries.
But what is available for common Gwadarities?
They continue to suffer under heavy load shedding and unavailability of clean drinking water. This city is being developed without proper planning. As the population of the city is increasing so are the problems. Without gas and electricity how can the industry be set up in its industrial zones?
The city of Gwadar is still deprived of basic facilities. It is an international megacity without water, electricity, gas, schools, colleges, hospitals, and an International Airport. What sort of an international mega city is it?
Honourable Senator Kauda Babar is former Advisor to Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizinjo for Gwadar Development Authority. Kauda means elder but humble servant. Humble Kauda Babar seems to be real Kauda (servant) of Gwadar. He promotes equality among Pakistanis. He is well educated and knows the importance of quality education for the people of Gwadar, Balochistan and all of Pakistan. He believes that the development of Gwadar will progress with high-quality education.
Kauda Babar became Senator in the recent Senate elections from Gwadar. He is an eager young visionary politician. Recently in a meeting with him, I came to know the bitter facts about the future of Gwadar. Senator Kauda Babar informed that several desalination plants for drinking water have always been the first need of the citizens but the government has always ignored this issue.
During his tenure as the advisor to the chief minister of Balochistan, he initiated the installation of a solar setup of 50 megawatts with German Solar Company Ibvogt GMBH. For the first time, Gwadar will meet its power requirements.
Gwadar suffers from both heavy load shedding and a lack of potable water
The senator was of the view that it will even provide enough power for the industries of Gwadar in future. He added that China is enjoying free tax facility in Gwadar but there are no tax-free zones for Pakistanis. Balochistan has not yet been given its due share of CPEC which is halting the development of the province and Gwadar. He added that Balochistan has serious concerns over NFC Award.
This so-called international city is yet to have an international airport. 22 billion rupees were allocated for this airport but only 1.1 billion rupees are released. It seems that Gwadar International Airport will not get completed by 2020 because of insufficient funds.
The word Gwadar is derived from two Balochi words Gwat (Air) Darr (Door). Gwadar has been the centre of trade between the Indus Valley Civilisation and Iraq for years. Alexander the Great ruled this city of Gwadar. Portuguese fleet, led by Vasco De Gama, tried to set the city on fire. Omani’s ruled the city for years, and during their tenure, the Gwadar port was more active. Forts built by Omani’s can be seen around the city even today.
Apart from natural landscapes and beaches, Gwadar has nothing significant to offer yet. Gwadar has no college for girls. The girls have no choice but to study in the boy’s college in the evening shift. Can Gwadarities even dream of a university at this stage? Will locals have lucrative jobs in future with the handful of university graduates? The answers are a big no. Most of the families can’t afford to send their kids to Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad for better education facilities.
Gwadar has a hospital but without specialist doctors, clinical labs, and medicines. Even pain-relieving medication is unavailable. Due to lack of maternity facilities in the city, women are taken to Karachi for treatment. Most of them take their last breath before reaching any hospital in Karachi. No matter what ailment people suffer from, they have to rush to Karachi for treatment at the distance of eight hours by road.
The water crisis is getting out of control with every passing day. People need clean drinking water and electricity. The water available is salty and undrinkable. The water issue becomes worse due to increased temperature during the month of Ramzan. Majority of Gwadarities are fishermen. How can they afford such high price of water on a low income? Although Gwadar has suffered from the water crisis in the past as well, however, with the increase in population, things are getting worse every year as the drought hit Gwadar has been short of rains for the last five years.
Who is responsible for the miseries of these equal Pakistanis? Are residents of Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad more Pakistanis than those of Gwadar? Are their fundamental human rights not equal to the rights of people of Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad?
In such circumstances, Gwadar can’t be called a future megacity. Gwadar has nothing that a city should have. For basic necessities, Gwadarities are forced to go to Karachi. Gwadar, a portrayed by the media is a fictitious and cosmetic illusion. This economic corridor is to help Gwadarities but the question is how will it help?
Would Gwadar resemble the city in the billboards in Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad?
Senator Kauda says that for its development we shouldn’t wait for donations from any other country. The Government of Pakistan must provide faculties to meet the basic needs of Gwadarities as it is their right. They should take the responsibility improve the standards of livings in Gwadar to make it a real megacity.
The writer is author of several books, a columnist and political analyst based in Islamabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in Daily Times, May 3rd2018.