BALOCHISTAN: Protests have intensified in Pakistan's Gwadar district against China's multi-billion belt and road project, with people fearing threats to their livelihoods from illegal fishing, according to local media reports.
Scores of people have staged a sit-in protest against various issues including needless check posts and fishing trawlers in Balochistan province. Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, the Provincial General Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Balochistan is spearheading several demonstrations in the region against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
CPEC has been marred with controversy since the announcement of the USD 46 billion project in 2015. Locals are opposing China's increasing involvement in Balochistan. They are protesting as the CPEC project has not benefited the people of Balochistan while people of other provinces are enjoying the fruits of the mega project.
This has led to widespread protests as the Chinese are viewed as encroachers who are squeezing out all the wealth from the region. This is the second such mass protest in the port city within a span of a few weeks, according to Dawn.
Back in October, thousands of residents of Gwadar and Turbat had also gathered there to demonstrate against the non-availability of drinking water, health and education facilities and rising unemployment in Makran division, Dawn newspaper reported.
The protesters have been demanding the removal of unnecessary security check posts and stopping of deep-sea trawlers from fishing in the area because it was causing huge losses to the local fishermen.
Many say that they are made to feel like strangers in their own land, adding to the miseries of a large number of fishermen among the populace, the government, they complain, has issued licences to Chinese trawlers to fish in the waters off the coast.
Apart from Gwadar, scores of people living in Jand city of Pakistan's Punjab province gathered at the under-construction CPEC road and staged a protest against the National Highway Authority (NHA) and other authorities for not constructing a service road to their areas that have been cut off from each other due to the mega project, Dawn reported.
The CPEC project would link Pakistan's southern Gwadar port in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China's western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East