“For the past month, protesters have filled the streets of the Pakistani city of Gwadar—home to a Chinese-operated port—chanting “Gwadar ko haq do!” (“Give Gwadar rights!”) Among their many demands: an end to the illegal trawling devastating the livelihoods of local fishermen, the relaxation of restrictions on trade with nearby Iran, and the easing of security checkpoints in the city.

Locals in Gwadar have taken collective action before. But protests of this size, duration, and diversity—they’re led by a moderate Islamist politician in an area dominated by secular ethnic nationalists and include large numbers of women and children—are unprecedented in the city.

Situated in Pakistan’s Balochistan province along the Arabian Sea—outside the Strait of Hormuz and a few dozen miles from Iran—Gwadar has been pitched as a key node of the Belt and Road-linked China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistani officials have claimed that Gwadar and CPEC will transform the region’s economic geography by providing China’s landlocked Xinjiang region with an outlet to the Indian Ocean. But in discussions on Gwadar’s future, the city’s Indigenous ethnic Baloch population has largely been invisible.

The people of Gwadar, however, are now making themselves heard.”

Read more at Foreign Policy

Posted by Arif Rafiq

Arif Rafiq is the editor of CPEC Wire. He is president of Vizier Consulting, LLC, a political risk advisory company, and a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute. Rafiq authored the first comprehensive public study on CPEC, "The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Barriers and Impact," published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. He can be reached via email at contactarifrafiq@gmail.com.

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