Gwadar rights leader threatens to close Chinese port from July 21: report
A prominent local leader in Pakistan’s Balochistan province has threatened to close the strategic port of Gwadar, a major CPEC project that offers China an opening into the Arabian Sea, from July 21, if demands accepted by the provincial government, including banning the mafia from trawlers, are not being met, a news outlet reported on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Baloch, who led the Gwadar rights movement and is also the provincial general secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami, said the port would be closed to register a protest against the government for not keeping its promises. he did in the agreement signed in April this year to end a month-long sit-in in the port city.
He said the main demands of the Gwadar rights movement were: to liberate the coast of Balochistan from the trawler mafia, to open the border points in Gwadar, to eliminate drug trafficking and to remove unnecessary checkpoints, reported the Dawn newspaper.
The leader said Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo came to Gwadar and promised to rid Balochistan coast of mafia trawlers, open crossing points in Gwadar, eliminate the drug trafficking, removing security force checkpoints and locating missing persons.
He criticized opposition parties in Balochistan, saying they had failed to speak out for the rights of people in the province, according to the report.
Baloch, who has led rallies in the past, criticized the government, saying that despite the deployment of various security agencies, hundreds of illegal trawlers were involved in illegal fishing in Baluchistan waters, depriving local fishermen of their breadwinner.
He also claimed that the law and order situation in Makran and Panjgur was deteriorating and that in order to control it, the government needed to withdraw Frontier Corps from the resource-rich province, according to the report.
He said the doors of dialogue are always open, he added.
In December last year, Pakistan and China agreed to exploit the full potential of Gwadar Port in Balochistan Province, a major project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The CPEC, which connects the port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China’s ambitious multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction across Pakistan since 2013. Initially valued at $46 billion, the projects were worth $62 billion in 2017.
India has protested to China against the CPEC as it is set up across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe through a network of land and sea routes. The BRI is seen as China’s attempt to boost its influence overseas with Chinese investment-funded infrastructure projects around the world.