Pakistan Nixes Plan To Fence Gwadar Port In Balochistan

The Balochistan authorities have reversed plan to build a fence around the entire area surrounding the Gwadar port amid protests by locals against the fortification.

The Pakistan army, in collaboration with the Makran Administration, Gwadar Development Authority, Gwadar Port Authority and the Balochistan government, were planning to carry out the project to fence off the entire 24-square-kilometre area surrounding the Gwadar seaport to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project from the rising number of attacks on Chinese installations by the people of Balochistan as a sign of protest.

Home Minister Zia Lango announced that the Balochistan government has stopped work on Gwadar fence on the instructions of Chief Minister Jam Kamal, Geo News reported.

Lango announced the decision in a news conference after attending an Open Kutcheri, adding that a parliamentary delegation would give its recommendation to the Chief Minister in this regard.

The South China Morning Post said that the reversal served as a microcosm of the security, political and economic challenges ahead for the USD 62 billion worth CPEC.

Like other Chinese business and even diplomatic interests in Pakistan, Gwadar has suffered multiple attacks by terrorist groups active in Pakistan’s most volatile regions.

Lango said on Tuesday the fence-building around Gwadar had been halted amid criticism from locals.

“The local people will not be kept away from decision making about Gwadar and a decision about fencing would now be taken after taking the local people into confidence over the issue,” he said.

The fencing plan has triggered resentment among the Baloch population, who thought the authorities would go beyond their constitutional limits if they went ahead with the fortification plan.

Baloch lawmakers, who swung into action to condemn the fencing plan, are contemplating a move in parliament against the government’s designs, Shakil informed in his article.

Asia Times quoted a member of the National Assembly from Gwadar-Lasbela, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, who expressed resentment over the decision and said that fencing Gwadar in the name of security will create doubts in the minds of the local population.

“Gwadar should have been a hub of business and trade, but unfortunately, the government is making it a security zone, which will discourage investment in the area,” he said.

Mir Kabir Mohammad Shahi, a lawmaker and National Party senator, said that fencing off Gwadar city under the safe city project would divide the coastal area into two parts, adding that “Those who regularly visit the city will be given a card, without which no one could enter the city.”

“The decision of the federal government to fence the port city amounts to divide it into two parts. In an era when the Berlin Wall fell, the city is being divided under the garb of security concerns. It has raised serious concerns amongst people of the area,” Mian Raza Rabbani, Former Senate Chairman, and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator said in a statement. (ANI)

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