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Protest in Gwadar

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Protest in Gwadar

A look at the 19 Demands

Gwadar, a key route of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has been the site of protests in recent days. Locals, under the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Secretary General Balochistan Chapter, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Baloch, came out on the streets, chanting slogans for the fulfilment of their demands. The JI leader states that the people of Gwadar were deceived in the name of CPEC and Gwadar port while they have not benefited from it. “If CPEC and Gwadar port are not for the prosperity of the local people, then they do not need to be here,” he said.
The demands made, according to the authorities, are as follows:
1. End to illegal trawlers: Office of director general of Fisheries moved to Gwadar and patrolling increased to check on illegal trawlers
2. Freedom for fishermen to go to sea: Elimination of special token system to go to sea. Fishermen are now allowed to go without any permission
3. Elimination of unnecessary checkposts on major roads: All unnecessary checkposts removed
4. Closure of wine shops in Gwadar: All wine shops closed on government instructions
5. Elimination of interference in cross-border trade with Iran: End to all kinds of interference and establishment of trade markets at border
6. Establishment of a university in Gwadar: Appointment of a vice chancellor for Gwadar University, classes to start soon
7. Appointments on empty seats of education department’s non-teaching staff: Selection process for appointment completed, officials sent for appointment
8. Curtailing the sale of fake medicines: Inspection of Gwadar’s medical stores completed
9. Waivers and subsidies on utility bills: Policy on issue to be clarified soon, chief minister has written a letter to Quetta Electric Supply Company
10. Release of seized cars and boats by coastguard: Legal team formed on the issue
11. Provision of clean drinking water: Supply of water initiated, water project to be completed soon
12. Priority to locals on jobs for development projects: Special desk formed on the issue in district commissioner’s office
13. Implementation on agreement with Dar Bela affectees: Compensation paid to affectees, separate area being selected for land compensation
14. Compensation paid to Expressway affectees: Compensation paid to affectees, special measures being taken for remaining people
15. Removal of cases on protest leaders and names from Fourth Schedule: Matter sent to the provincial cabinet
16. Damages for losses due to storms and illegal trawlers: Survey completed of fishermen’s losses, matter of compensation sent to Provincial Disaster Management Authority and orders issued for immediate compensation
17. Removal of DG GDA, DC Gwadar AC Pasni: Officials changed and replaced with capable individuals
18. Implementation of quota for disabled people: Orders issued for strict implementation of quota
19. Open Kulki point for transportation of oil and essentials: Kantani point completely opened for transport and distribution of oil and essentials
Although the protests continued for more than a month and were called off only after successful negotiations with the government, it is important that these attracted attention from previously inattentive corners.
Nevertheless, the success is significant, and does hold some lessons for those who are inclined to learn them. For one, the laser-like focus on the actual demands, without any hint of a maximalist agenda or ‘mission creep’ kept the leadership centred. And because the demands were so fundamental to the well-being of the people, the crowds kept growing in size with time, as opposed to protests we have seen that peter out the longer they go on. Also, despite the fact that Maulana Hidayat comes from the Jamaat-i-Islami, there was no overt presence of a single political party during the protests and, despite dark mutterings from local nationalists, no real hint of a JI agenda. For all the parties currently trying and failing to mobilise the masses, the real lesson here is that if you cater to the people, and not your personal brand of politics, success is certainly easier to find.

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