Gwadar Rights Movement leader Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman has warned Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar port area, The Maritime Executive reported.
Balochistan [Pakistan]: Gwadar Rights Movement leader Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman has warned Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar port area, The Maritime Executive reported.
Maulana threatened Chinese nationals living in Gwadar, according to reports, warning that if the government “ignores” their peaceful protest, the participants “have the right to take up arms and use them to defend our rights.” Asian Light International reports that there are fewer than 500 Chinese in Gwadar, all in the Gwadar port compound, media reports suggest.
Protests over the expansion of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, a key asset of China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) in Asia, are on the rise, which could threaten economic ties between China and Pakistan, The Maritime Executive reported.
Last week, the incident took a new turn after a protest leader warned Chinese nationals to leave Gwadar by the end of the week.
Chinese nationals face increasing threats from various terrorist groups in Pakistan, with incidents of targeted attacks on Chinese nationals increasing in recent times.
Growing anti-China sentiment in Gwadar could adversely affect the progress of key CPEC projects.
The protests, led by Rehman, who is affiliated with the Gwadar Rights Movement, have been going on for about two months.
The protests mainly involved blocking the port entrance to Gwadar and the Gwadar East Gulf Expressway, the main artery connecting the port to Pakistan’s main highway network, The Maritime Executive reported.
The participants demanded an immediate ban on illegal trawling in Balochistan’s maritime boundaries, recovery of missing Baloch people, closure of unnecessary security posts, preference for local labor over Chinese nationals, maximum concessions in border trade with Iran and narcotics settlement in Gwadar. – Related issues.
Protesters also want the government to ease restrictions on informal border trade with Iran. While these demands are not directly linked to Chinese projects in Gwadar, experts argue that many locals believe these developments are part of the problem, The Maritime Executive reported.
Last year, Rehman had staged similar protests for more than 32 days. They withdrew the action after the government promised to address their raised demands, which the protesters say were never addressed.
Rehman and other protesters last year refrained from overtly threatening China.
Rehman’s decision to warn Chinese nationals is seen as a move to force the Pakistani government to negotiate, The Maritime Executive reported.
Since 2021, Chinese nationals have been the target of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. This includes a bomb attack in July 2021, which killed at least nine Chinese workers on a bus heading to the Dasu hydropower plant site.
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These threats have prompted Beijing to put pressure on Islamabad to guarantee the safety of its citizens. Chinese security in Pakistan was high on the agenda when Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Beijing last month.
Chinese security is being used for negotiations, as protesters demand immediate attention from the government. Rehman has pledged to halt all Chinese projects in Gwadar and restrict the movement of high-profile dignitaries to the port city, The Maritime Executive reported.
Pakistan has special economic relations with China and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is considered the crown jewel of the BRI. It will provide China with minimal access to markets in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe through the deep sea port of Gwadar.
CPEC is expected to cost more than USD 50 billion, including development of highways, railways and special economic zones. Gwadar port is the main base of this initiative.
Although CPEC was launched in 2015, its momentum has been significantly affected by local resistance. The project was further slowed down during the reign of former Prime Minister Imran Khan due to differences between his government and China, but the new administration seems keen to revive CPEC, The Maritime Executive reported.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by HW News staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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