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Did the Balochistan chief minister distribute cash to end the Gwadar protests?

Women and children too joined the Give rights to Gwadar movement (Photo: Twitter)

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdus Quddus Bizenjo was seen distributing cash in a video that has gone viral in Pakistan. The cash distribution happened at the same site where the Gwadar rights protestors had laid siege for over a month.

Journalist Absar Alam put up the video on micro-blogging site Twitter tagging Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Baloch–the leader of the 'Give rights to Gwadar' movement. He also posed the question: "Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Sahib, what is this happening?"

Pakistani newspaper The Friday Times highlighted the video in a report on Friday, one day after the Gwadar protests were called off. 

The video was an instant reminder of how a Pakistani general, Maj Gen Azhar Naveed Hayat Khan, was seen distributing money to the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017 in an effort to broker peace with the agitating group.

In a statement released on Twitter, the Give rights to Gwadar movement said: “The movement has nothing to do with the Balochistan Chief Minister's video. On his way back after the agreement, the Chief Minister met a few women and children on the way and suddenly distributed the money. The movement had no such demand and had nothing to do with the process”.

Gwadar, a port city in Balochistan close to the Iran border, has been in news for mass protests over basic rights like water and power issues. Later the protests spread to other parts of Balochistan. People have also been protesting over erasure of livelihoods due to restrictions on fishing and the closure of the Iran border for trade.

A number of demands from the Gwadar protestors were sensitive as these related to the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. These included removal of check points, access to the sea for fishing, chasing out Chinese commercial trawlers and jobs for locals in CPEC projects.

The massive protests were called off on Thursday after protest leader Maulana Baloch met with Balochistan CM Bizenjo, provincial ministers and federal officials in a bid to diffuse the agitation. With the government agreeing to their demands, the protest was called off.

With the video showing the Balochistan chief minister distributing cash, a controversy has erupted again in Pakistan.