The protest movement in Gwadar that began 28 days ago and has now gained momentum was initiated by a 70-year-old woman who staged a sit-in in the port city, with Maulana Hifayat-ur-Rehman later joining her. It was 70-year-old Zainab’s effort that led to a widespread protest movement in the region.
Zainab, while talking to Independent Urdu, said that she not only led the women participating in the protest but also cooked dinner for the protesters. Zainab added that this is the first time in Gwadar’s history that thousands of women have stepped outside their homes to participate in a protest.
Zaid recalled that on December 10 police tried to surround the protesters, but on her call, all the women came together and the police had to back off. Samira Sadeque, a political worker affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami Balochistan, confirmed that “Zainab started the protest when she gathered some people and began a sit-in at Gwadar port”. Samira added that Zainab was the one who called Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman to lead the protest.
Zainab said that so many women were participating in the protest because they were distressed by the rising poverty levels. While talking about the protester’s demands, she said the rising number of fishing trawlers had snatched the livelihood of Gwadar’s people. She added that fishermen from the port city have been issued timetables during which they can fish and even during that time they are harassed by the authorities who beat, abuse and interrogate them
While talking about the drug epidemic in the city, Zainab lamented that rising drug abuse had led to the death of many youngsters. Zainab said that she has lost all hope in politicians who only meet the public during election season.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, on December 12, took notice of the protest and said that “I have taken notice of the very legitimate demands of the hardworking fishermen of Gwadar. Will be taking strong action against illegal fishing by trawlers”.