‘Thousands of children’ join Gwadar’s ‘Haq Do Tehreek’

Similar protest in October led by Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman Baloch in October demanded basic rights like healthcare, clean water, electricity

Picture source: Twitter/JI

Throngs of children took to the streets in Gwadar as part of the ‘Haq Do Tehreek’ under the directive of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Balochistan Secretary General Hidayat-ur-Rehman Baloch on Sunday.

JI tweeted a video that showed thousands of children walking along as part of an ongoing protest spearheaded by the party, which entered its sixth day on Sunday.

Baloch tweeted another video of the children chanting slogans for their basic rights in the port city. Baloch said that residents of all ages in Gwadar were united in their quest for a better life and the government had to pay due heed to their demands.

Thousands of people have been demonstrating in a sit-in against the government since Tuesday on Baloch’s call. They have raised their voices against what they believe were unneeded check-posts and the burgeoning presence of fishing trawlers in the port city, amongst a host of other issues like water and electricity problems, which they say are in part resultant from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the region.

CPEC, protestors have argued, brought with it a false promise of prosperity, which was yet to be realized to the benefit of the locals.

Protesters have complained that the government had allowed Chinese trawlers to fish in Gwadar’s waters, which tampered with the livelihoods of local fisherman and destroyed marine life in the area.

According to media reports, JI Balochistan general secretary said that the aggrieved city dwellers were demanding that additional check posts at Pushkan, Sarbandan and Gwadar City be removed. The media also reported that the check posts have become a daily source of nuisance for the residents, who have suffered from incessant questioning by the authorities and restricted movement due to the tight security apparatus around them.

The demonstration turned visually grim as protestors wrapped themselves in coffin cloth and carried out a rally for their basic amenities on Thursday. Protestors have refused to stall their efforts till their demands are met by the government. This is despite there being an attempt at negotiations on the government’s part, which was all in vain as the demonstrators were not satisfied by their assurances.

Protests have enveloped the port city since a while now, with the last demonstration being staged in October. That protest too lasted several days and was under Baloch’s leadership.

Baloch had addressed the media and demanded that the government rectified issues such as water shortage in Gwadar and Makran. He added that the government had failed to provide basic services such as education and health facilities in the region, in addition to turning a blind eye to skyrocketing unemployment amongst Baloch people.

Gwadar has long been marred by developmental hiccups, with the water crisis having become a seminal source of contention for the city’s inhabitants. Media reports have cited a high shortage of water per day, even though there were three dams including Akara, Mirani and Sawad and a desalination plant courtesy of China, which was established in 2004 in Gwadar. The total requirement per day in Gwadar has been reported to be between four to six million gallons, the shortage of which has deprived Gwadar of clean drinking water.

 

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