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Chinese fishing trawlers in Balochistan cause concern in Islamabad

The Gwadar port is the centrepiece of Pakistan-China relations (Photo: IANS)

Relations between iron brothers Pakistan and China are not as smooth as photo-ops and formal statements of bonding make these out to be.

Exploitative fishing techniques by commercial Chinese trawlers has become a concern not just in Balochistan but also in Islamabad now. Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee held a meeting this Thursday to discuss fishing by the Chinese trawlers in "Balochistan territorial waters".

The concern had been raised by Pakistani senator Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo. The committee will also suggest recommendations to curb illegal fishing by foreign trawlers, mainly Chinese, in Pakistani waters depriving its own fishing communities.

India Narrative had earlier written how giant-sized Chinese trawlers have been depleting fisheries close to the Gwadar and the Karachi ports. Opposition parties as well as local fishermen communities have been voicing their protest at security restrictions and loss of livelihood.

Authorities at the highest levels in Pakistan are aware that Chinese fishing factories are indulging in illegal activities in their territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan, effectively snatching the livelihoods of Baloch fishermen.

Just a couple of day before the Senate meeting, people in Balochistan had taken out a protest march in the Gwadar port city over the harassment meted out to them by Pakistani security agencies and Chinese fishermen.

Member of the Baloch provincial assembly, Hammal Kalamti said that the fishermen in Gwadar are being harassed and urged the formation of a parliamentary body to investigate the grievances of the fishermen.

Baloch fishermen told The Baloch Times that Pakistani security forces have imposed curfew on fishing affecting the livelihoods of native fishermen who feed tens of thousands of families. The restrictions on Baloch boats has been imposed due to the security concerns by China which is developing the multi-use Gwadar port for trade as well as security.

The Gwadar port is the mouth of the famed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a mega-project that China has unveiled under supreme leader Xi Jinping as a showcase infrastructure initiative under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Balochistan remains an underserved region of Pakistan where a fierce insurgency has been continuing for the past several decades.

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