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Former Balochistan CM warns against use of force to quell Gwadar protests

The 'give rights to Gwadar' movement has turned into a mass movement (Photo: @thebalochnews/twitter)

The mass movement against Pakistan and China in the coastal city of Gwadar continues to garner political support in Pakistan.

In new-found support, National Party (NP) president Abdul Malik Baloch says that the demands put forth by the Baloch people are legitimate and should be accepted by Prime Minister Imran Khan's government.

Addressing party workers in Balochistan capital Quetta, he said that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue. Defending the right of the local people to protest over basic issues, he warned the government not to use force against the protesters otherwise the agitation will flare up all over Balochistan.

Earlier this week, the government had sent an additional 5,500 troops to Gwadar in view of the prolonged agitation. Baloch said that the political leaders in the region are no longer considered "legitimate representatives" by the people.

Baloch told his party men that the province is ridden with massive corruption. He alleged that ‘Thappa mafai’, or the voting mafia, had led to puppet rulers coming to power in the 2018 elections who were engaged in corruption due to which the people were suffering.

The former chief minister of Balochistan also said that Islamabad has irrationally declared south Balochistan as insurgency-affected.

Just a couple of days back, Samiullah Khan, member of the Punjab assembly from the Pakistan Muslim League (N) had also urged Islamabad to accept the demands of the Gwadar protestors without delay.

For nearly three weeks in the port city of Gwadar, where China is building a commercial and naval port, people have been holding the Gwadar ko haq do–give rights to Gwadar. The movement has seen sit-ins and demonstrations by the masses against the Pakistani government.

Analysing the Gwadar ko haq do movement, Geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra told India Narrative that the movement has "raised hopes among people in Gwadar and in parts of Balochistan that they will gain some basic human rights despite a deep-rooted feeling of being a colony of both Pakistan and China".

Though the Baloch people had been protesting for their basic rights for the past many months, their movement took a new turn after Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman Baloch, secretary general of Jamaat-i-Islami, joined the agitation.

In an exclusive interview from Gwadar, Hassan Murad Bakhsh, Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) member and Maulana Baloch’s team member told India Narrative this Friday that the Pakistan government does not allow them to work. “Our government does not allow us to earn our own living. We cannot go to the border to trade and we cannot go for fishing activities in the sea. We do not have water and power”, says Bakhsh.

The agitation has caught the eye of the international media as well as the Chinese government as the agitators are also protesting against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The people have given a charter of demands asking for regular supply of water and power, as well as removal of security check posts and harassment of  people by Pakistani security forces. The agitators have also been demanding an end to illegal fishing trawlers from China and opening up border trade with Iran. The protestors, which include people from all walks of life, also want the government to create livelihood opportunities for the local people.