Maryam Zia Baloch
Gwadar is being fenced under the pretext of security and in the name of Gwadar’s safe city. Before we ask any Politician, Economist, or Planner what they have to say on fencing a city to protect the Chinese investment, the people of Gwadar need to be heard on it. On December 27, 2020, not only the people of Gwadar city but people from the surrounding areas, including Ormara, Jiwani, and Pishukan, gathered in Gwadar city under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to protest the fencing of Gwadar.
People recalled the time when General Musharraf visited Gwadar in 2005 and promised them that anyone who lives in Gwadar would see their lives changed for the better in the future with the construction of Gwadar port. However, today, they see a fence that would divide the population of Gwadar district and restrict the free movement of people in the name of development. They said that they are being cheated in the name of development, and the basic human right of free movement is being violated. One of the speakers said that they agreed with the government on everything for the sake of a better future, but they don’t approve of a fence.
Kohanay Mullah Band, a local neighborhood, was shifted to provide the land for the port, and people agreed. Lands of Gorandaani and Darbela were sold to the government at very cheap rates for Gwadar airport and people didn’t say anything. Even another neighborhood of Washay dhoor was taken away from people for the development of Free Zone, and people gave it away. But now they are asking for too much and want to put them into a fence, and separate them from each other and their relatives, which is not acceptable.
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The fence is being seen as an assault on the relationships of the local populace. One part of Washay dhoor comes into the fence and another part doesn’t. Do people living in Washay dhoor has to whisper to each other from one side of the fence to another side of the fence, asked one participant. Well, will we need a No objection certificate for meeting our relatives living in Gwadar city, another person questioned? A resident of Jiwani said that coming from Jiwani to Gwadar, we are searched at six different check posts before we enter the city, isn’t that enough that now you need a fence. They said that if you want to ask what we need, then let us tell you that we don’t need security, but we demand water, food, and employment for fishermen.
Lastly, one of the participants of Grand People Jirga of PDM at Gwadar curiously inquired isn’t the development of Gwadar for businesses and investment, wouldn’t there be a market and aren’t markets considered to free, then why do you want to fence the city, and restrict the access of people from the market. These are genuine questions from the local populace of Gwadar and need to be answered. The People’s Jirga was concluded by the following resolutions:
People of Gwadar reject the fencing of Gwadar city
The Island ordinance of the Federal government is not acceptable
Restore Pasni Fish Harbor
People of Gwadar reject the park at Mullah Fazul chowk if the government doesn’t provide employment to people of chowk and provide space for taxi drivers for a taxi stand
The area in Ormara that is fenced by the Navy is also not acceptable
The writer works with World Bank, Washington DC, and a Fulbright Alumni who belongs to Turbat. She tweets at @MerryBaloch.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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