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Trouble looms in restive Balochistan as Pakistan rolls out red carpet for China's CPEC

Trouble looms in restive Balochistan as Pakistan rolls out red carpet for China`s CPEC
CPEC Photograph:( Reuters )
Aug 03, 2020, 09.50 PM (IST)

When China wanted to launch the belt and road initiative, it needed a country to showcase it. Pakistan was the only choice that Xi Jinping had.

CPEC was sold as the ultimate solution to Pakistan's economic troubles. But, it was China that has squeezed all the benefits.

By 2018,  60,000 Chinese citizens were living in Pakistan. Presumably, they were there for work. The vacancies that were supposed to be filled by Pakistanis went to Chinese nations.

And it is communities like the Baloch people, that are paying the price for it.

In 2015, the people of Pakistan felt they are rolling out the red carpet for prosperity.

Xi Jinping was conferred with the Nishan-e-Pakistan. Pakistan’s highest civilian honour. This was after both sides announced the China-Pakistan economic corridor.

The entire project revolves around Gwadar. The city has boomed after the birth of CPEC.

Big crowds began visiting Gwadar. The fledging pearl continental --- the only five-star hotel of the area, has found its mojo back.

Thanks to the big-ticket investment from China. But, all of this means very little for the locals of Gwadar.

Chinese investments have brought nothing for them. Except for broken promises.

Old neighbourhoods have been swallowed by the dragon.

Most of Gwadar is still a slum with people still trying to earn the minimum wage. The Baloch community is vulnerable.

They fear that Chinese investments will turn them into a minority. 

Helpless, some Balochis have picked up arms. They have threatened to target any CPEC project in Balochistan.

The threat is a legitimate one.

In 2019, 14 passengers were forced off a bus and killed. Most of the victims were from the Pakistan navy and coast guard.

In the same year, the pearl continental was attacked. Chinese investment is under threat in Gwadar.

Beijing came down hard on Islamabad demanding security for its citizens and assets. The centrepiece of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has now become a military cantonment.

According to reports, more than 17,000 Pakistani soldiers have been deployed in Gwadar.

They protect the Chinese and fight their citizens. Reportedly, locals travelling around Gwadar are routinely harassed at checkpoints.

While the Chinese continue to bully their way in across Pakistan.

This video had gone viral in 2018. Chinese nationals had launched a fistfight against Pakistani policemen in Punjab.

These are engineers working who were building a section of CPEC.

Another video showed a Chinese citizen standing on the bonnet of a police van -- with the policemen inside. Some others can be seen trying to open the door of the car.

China keeps calling the shots in Pakistan. While Pakistani citizens continue to pay for the blunders of the political elite.

Pakistan is at war -- with its citizens


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