Protests in Gwadar: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan promises “strong action” against illegal fishing trawlers, South Asia News
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday he would take “strong action” against illegal trawler fishing off the coast of Gwadar after weeks of sit-ins and protests by local residents rocked the government and forced the authorities to deploy thousands of additional police. officers of the region.
Hundreds of local residents, civil society activists, lawyers, journalists, including women, have staged massive protests and a sit-in in Gwadar over the past 28 days against unnecessary checkpoints, a severe water and electricity shortages and threats to livelihoods from illegal fishing.
“I have taken note of the very legitimate demands of hardworking Gwadar fishermen. I will take strong action against illegal trawler fishing and also speak to CM Balochistan,” Khan tweeted.
Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, Balochistan’s secretary general of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, which led the protests, welcomed the prime minister’s tweet.
Rehman, who heads Gwadar Ko Huqooq Do Tehreek (Empowering the Gwadar Movement), said their two main demands were – action against the “trawler mafia” and solving problems on the Iranian border – on all 19 claims.
Meanwhile, the advisor to Balochistan’s chief minister for interior and tribal affairs, Mir Ziaullah Lagau, said the protesters had a list of 19 demands, 16 of which were accepted by the government.
“Accepted demands include illegal trawlers fishing in Gwadar port, increased patrols to control illegal trawlers, freedom for local fishermen to go to sea, elimination of unnecessary checkpoints on main roads , the closure of wine shops in Gwadar and the elimination of interference in the border trade crossing with Iran and end all kinds of interference and the establishment of trade markets at the border “, a- he told reporters.
The protests in Balochistan are part of growing dissatisfaction with China’s presence in Gwadar, whose port is an integral part of the $ 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the flagship project of the China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. (BIS).
The huge infrastructure project connects the Chinese province of Xinjiang with the port of Gwadar in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.
The port of Gwadar has long been touted as the crown jewel of CPEC, but in the process, the city has become the epitome of a secure state.
India has protested to China against the CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Protesters from Gwadar, Turbat, Pishkan, Zamran, Buleda, Ormara and Pasni participate in the “Gwadar Ko Huqooq Do Tehreek” (Giving rights to the Gwadar movement) led by Maulana Rehman.
They vowed to continue their protest until their demands are met and earlier this week even the women held a large rally in Gwadar and Pasni.
Protesters put forward 19 demands, which include measures to rid the sea of the “trawler mafia” and allow fishermen to go freely in the waters, get rid of unnecessary checkpoints and not “insult” them. citizens in the name of security.
They also demanded the closure of all wine shops in Gwadar and the authorization of border trade with Iran.
Baluchistan is the site of a long-standing violent insurgency, and China’s presence in Gwadar has sparked much social unrest and has led to anti-Chinese sentiment. It also gave a boost to the Baluch militant insurgent groups, which carried out terrorist attacks to protest against the plans of the CPEC.
The requests also indicate that a majority of people employed by the China Overseas Port Holding Company were from outside Gwadar and called for prioritizing locals.