Port City Clamours For Their Basic Amenities

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Mannan Samad
While addressing media, Chinese and Pakistani officials and ministers frequently term CPEC a ‘game changer’ for entire region. But dubbing CPEC a ‘win-win’ project for all sounds bizarre and ludicrous. Astoundingly, Gwadar is still grappling with issues and inequalities despite being an economic hub. Recent ‘historic rally’ surfacing in port city of Gwadar have debunked the all hollow claims of economic stability, progress, prosperity and development.

In a promising development, thousands of women took out a rally in Balochistan’s Gwadar on Monday (29 November) to protest against illegal trawling, unnecessary security check posts, water crisis, unemployment and other issues. It happened first time in the history of Balochistan that women in such a sizeable number quit their chores and took to the streets clamouring for their basic amenities.

Interestingly, women are at the frontline in this civil combat which has further strengthened the movement. It is a good omen that mothers and sisters of Gwadar have decided not sit idly at home rather to chant slogan against the injustices inflicted upon them. History is the witness that the movements, with a central role of women, have never failed and left an indelible mark of overwhelming triumph.

Scores of people hailing from various parts of Makran division have been staging a sit-in since November 17, demanding government put ban on illegal fishing with trailer which is jeopardizing the interests of fishermen. Additional check-posts should be abolished which are disrupting the citizen’s freedom of movement and causing nuisances for them owing to deliberate interrogation. Crisis of water and electricity should be dealt. Unemployment issue should be alleviated and other several issues are also listed in the demands catalogue.

This dynamic and optimistic movement is being led under the tutelage of Provincial General Secretary of Jamat-e-Islami Balochistan, Maulana Hidayat-Ur-Rehman Baloch in the port city of Gwadar on the name of ‘Gwadar Ko Haq Do, Balochistan Ko Haq Do Tehreek – Give rights to Gwadar, Give rights to Balochistan movement’.

The loud and clear hardline stance adopted by Maulana Hidayat-Ur-Rehman Baloch in terms of having all demands fulfilled is an epitome of hope in these hopeless days which may usher an era of peace, serenity and prosperity. Despite facing multiple threats, Maulana has refused to bow down in view of renouncing his democratic and constitutional struggles. Unhidden forces have failed to lower the morale and deter the resolve of Maulana in his ongoing battle. He has instead risen invincible and has embarked upon the path to fight for the genuine rights of his people.

Such movements are the glaring manifestation of this acerbic fact that Gwadar is being exploied in the garb of CPEC project. Since the inception of this project in 2013, CPEC has miserably failed to address the basic issues of its inhabitants. Shockingly, officials and ministers still have the audacity to dub ‘Gwadar’ next Singapore. The perpetual hefty claims of making Gwadar next ‘Singapore’ or ‘Dubai’ only add salt to the wounds of its residents.

Disregarding Gwadar in particular and forsaking Balochistan in general is greatly augmenting the sense of alienation among the people. The strategy of sidelining the already marginalized-province will aggravate the economic woes and trigger a spake of unremitting public outcry which could spiral out of control. Incumbent provincial government is inept and incompetent to appease the protesters while Maulana has made a blowing announcement to block coastal highway from 3rd December if demands are not met. Central government should wake up from deep slumber and pay heed to the brewing situation ensued in the port city before it is too late.

(-The writer is a contributing columnist based in Quetta.)