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Women lead yet another protest against Chinese mining in Balochistan

Representational image. Thousands of women record historical protest in the port city of Gwadar for the basic amenities of life (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@thebalochnews)

A new wave of protest has started against the Chinese company in Saindak in Balochistan in Pakistan. According to reports, the agitation  began with a 10-km foot march by the local women and children on Thursday. Since then, they have been camping outside the premises of the Chinese company.  Protesters say that their male relatives who are local employees of the Chinese company are not allowed to come home for six to nine months.

“Even we are not allowed to the local markets and hospital in Saindak as the Chinese have banned any movement,” the women protestors told The Balochistan Post.

Interestingly, while women are staging protests outside the company, local male employees are on sit-in dharnas against injustices by the Chinese management. They say that the company has made the lives of local employees and their families miserable.

According to a local journalist, the reason behind the new orders, came in the wake of recent attacks by Baloch rebels in Noshki and Panjgur earlier this month. Since then the Chinese have become very suspicious about their local employees.

“The local employees are cleared by the Pakistani security agencies but even then, the Chinese do not trust them,” says one local journalist.

Since the February attacks on the camps of the Pakistani security force by Baloch rebels, Pakistan is on high alert following the warning issued by the Baloch separatist groups to China to “refrain from aiding Pakistan in looting Baloch resources and occupying our motherland, or else their interests will become our targets."

Also Read: The Baloch Liberation Army's Majeed Brigade stuns Pakistan's Frontier Corps with audacious attacks

But despite the threats, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan handed over the Saindak gold-copper mines to a Chinese company without consulting the provincial government of Balochistan.

Also Read: Brushing aside Baloch protests, Imran Khan surrenders gold mines to China in Balochistan

According to reports, China is a big market for Pakistani copper. To protect the Chinese interests in the mining areas of Balochistan, the Pakistani army has deployed heavy security rings but that has not deterred the Baloch rebels from attacking Chinese engineers and workers.

In recent years, the Baloch rebels have emerged as the biggest threat to CPEC in Pakistan who  deem China an oppressor and allege that the country is taking advantage of Balochistan’s geostrategic location for its own benefit. These separatists believe that the Chinese projects are aimed at colonising Balochistan, and they must be resisted.

Last year, in November,  Gwadar in  Balochistan, witnessed its biggest protests, with the local population demanding better rights and livelihood. The Gwadar Ko Haq Do (Give Gwadar its rights) movement saw tens of thousands of women, men, and young children marching on the main roads of the city, home to the ‘prized jewel’ of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—the Gwadar port—chanting slogans against the Imran Khan government and China.

Also Read: Baloch rights movement against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor spreads from Gwadar to the Makran coast