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Gwadar protests echo beyond Balochistan, Pakistan’s Punjab assembly also stands up for dissidents

Balochistan is becoming a headache for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (Photo: IANS)

As the protests in the Gwadar port city garner the attention of the international media, the Imran Khan government is coming under pressure from political parties.

Samiullah Khan, member of the Punjab assembly from the Pakistan Muslim League (N), (PML-N) has submitted a resolution in the assembly urging Islamabad to accept the demands of the Gwadar protestors without delay.

Geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra analysed the situation for India Narrative: "The Gwadar protests are taking a political turn as Baloch issues are being raised in the Punjab provincial assembly. A PML (N) party member has raised the issue of rights for Gwadar people in the Punjab Assembly. The PML (N) is the opposition party in Balochistan assembly while Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is a coalition partner with the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP)".

Kinra adds that as the PML (N) is in competition with the Imran Khan government over the upcoming general elections, taking up human rights issues of Baloch people in the Punjab Assembly could simply be pure politics than real sympathy for Baloch people.

Samiullah Khan's resolution says that even women and children have taken to the streets for their just demands. "Gwadar played an important role in the progress of the country and ignoring its residents would not be wise on the part of the government…", the resolution says.

The Gwadar protests have spread across the entire coastal belt of Balochistan, taking the Pakistani government by surprise. The Baloch people have been demanding basic rights such as water, power, creation of livelihoods, removal of security posts and access to the sea for Baloch fishermen.

The people have raised issues like providing education, curbing drugs and liquor and improving health facilities for the people.

The protests in Gwadar are strategically important for Pakistan to resolve as the city is a base for China's multipurpose port, which is a part of the all-important China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).