Thousands gathered in Gwadar’s Shuhada Jewani Chowk on Thursday to launch a massive protest against the injustices meted out to the locals.
Led by Jamaat-e-Islami’s Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman Baloch, the unprecedented demonstration put forth demands of the residents of the port city and other deprived areas of Balochistan.
The protestors clamoured against water scarcity, growing unemployment, and a lack of basic amenities such as health and education.
Local governance, including the societal structure and education, is in complete disarray. On November 20 last year, #GwadarNeedsUniversity was a trending Twitter hashtag in Pakistan. But neither the provincial government, nor the centre, paid any heed to it. The five-year-old vow of developing a university in Gwadar remains unfulfilled.
The city Imran Khan dreams of making the ‘next Dubai’ is currently protesting over a lack of basic amenities and fighting for the locals’ survival
The plight of Gwadar’s fishermen is another dark chapter of Balochistan’s story. 80% of the city’s population depends on fishing for livelihood. The locals have long protested against Sindh’s trawlers depriving them of their share, but now have to deal with Chinese trawlers as well. Balochistan’s fisheries department has also increased the annual taxes for the fisherman from Rs14,000 to Rs24,000. Protests have been going on for months, but to no avail.
Water shortage is another never-ending crisis, despite multiple protests. In a prominent demonstration on May 23, women and children blockaded the main road in Jiwani and rallied on the streets against the provincial government’s failures.
Gwadar’s cricket stadium has gained international attention. How can a city that doesn’t have drinking water enthusiastically participate in sports?
Since 2013, lack of rainfall in Balochistan has resulted in a shortage of surface water. The Akra Kaur Dam, built in 1995, has also dried up. A report from United Nations Development Program says drought is affecting up to 70% of the local population. The government-backed water supplying tankers have established their own mafia.
Despite the socio-economic inequalities on display, and being aggravated every day, the mainstream media has rarely found anything worth highlighting.
Recently, the cricket stadium built in Gwadar gained international attention. Jam Kamal’s government allocated approximately Rs20 million for the stadium and the Baba-e-Bizenjo Football Stadium. How can a city that doesn’t have drinking water enthusiastically participate in sports?
Demonstrations being held in the internationally-lauded port city Gwadar should be worrying for the rulers, especially considering the noise generated with regards to CPEC being a ‘game changer’.
The city Imran Khan dreams of making the ‘next Dubai’ is currently protesting over a lack of basic amenities and fighting for the locals’ survival.