Balochs Resist Pak Plan To Fence Gwadar Seaport Area

Balochis are vehemently protesting against the Pakistan authorities plan to fence off the entire 24-square-kilometer area surrounding the Gwadar seaport to secure what they call the ‘crown jewel’ of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), reported Asia Times.

Public officeholders and the Baloch intelligentsia labelled these developments as a violation of human rights and called it the ‘federalization of Balochistan province’ – a violation of the country’s constitution, wrote FM Shakil in an article in Asia Times.

They believe that the authorities will go beyond their constitutional limits if they went ahead with the fortification plan, reported Asia Times. Baloch lawmakers condemned the plan and contemplated a move in Pakistan Parliament against the government designs, added Shakil.

As per Shakil, the Pakistan army in collaboration with Makran Administration, Gwadar Development Authority, Gwadar Port Authority and the Balochistan government, would carry out the project under the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan.

Authorities plan to have 15,000 acres of land secured with iron barriers in the first phase of the project to monitor the inflow and outflow of traffic. Gwadar safe city would be equipped with more than 500 high-definition surveillance cameras to keep a close watch on ‘suspicious activities’ or unauthorized or forceful intrusions into the city, said a government source.

Some lawmakers believe that China could introduce a ‘permit system’ to monitor or regulate entry and exit from the walled city for security purposes, reported Asia Times.

The decision for fencing was caused by Beijing’s growing apprehensions about the rising number of attacks on Chinese installations in Balochistan as Pakistan’s army failed to ward-off Baloch attacks on the CPEC projects in the province.

The Chinese stakes in Balochistan and Sindh are high. The Gwadar seaport in Balochistan, which Pakistan leased out to China’s Overseas Port Holding Company for 40 years, is strategically important for Beijing for its energy needs and maritime influence in the Indian Ocean.

For China, Gwadar could become a tactical port that could serve as Beijing’s overseas naval base much sooner than expected, said a high-placed source to Asia Times.

China has also invested in Sindh province for building four coal-based power projects, two each in the Port Qasim and Thar areas. China is also interested in developing the Sindh coastal areas, spreading over 350 kilometers in the southeastern part of the country between the Indus border and the Hub River, informed Shakil.

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently in early September promulgated a presidential ordinance to establish the ‘Pakistan Islands Development Authority’ that has created a furore among the Sindhis who are against Chinese investments in the Sindh islands.

The step would further alienate the Baloch population as well as the Sindhis and the narrative of the anti-China forces would strengthen in the provinces, reported Asia Times. (ANI)

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