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Gwadar rights leader threatens long march to Quetta over enforced disappearances of Baloch people

Maulana Hidayat Ur Rehman of the Jamaat-i-Islami addressing a press conference at the Quetta Press Club (Photo: @MHidayatRehman/Twitter)

Maulana Hidayat Ur Rehman, the leader of the ‘Gwadar Ko Haq Do’ mass movement, also known as the, give rights to Gwadar movement, has threatened to initiate the long march to Quetta if the government does not implement the demands of the Baloch people.

Addressing a press conference at the Quetta Press Club, the popular leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emphasised that one of the main demands of the Baloch people was the release of Baloch missing persons. The issue of enforced disappearances or people kidnapped by Pakistani security forces, is an emotive issue among the Baloch community.

The Balochistan Post reports that the press conference was attended by senior JI leaders.

The ‘Gwadar Ko Haq Do’ movement saw thousands of protestors demand an end to the issues festering in Gwadar for the past several years. People from other places in Balochistan like Turbat, Ormara, Pasni and other cities flooded Gwadar to lend solidarity to the protest.

The Baloch leader reiterated other demands made by the people during the month-long agitation in December 2021. He emphasised on the removal  of security check-posts, eliminating drug trafficking and ending the misuse of the natural resources of Balochistan.

Maulana Baloch said that Balochistan should get its due share in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the profits from the joint China-Pakistan project go to China, followed by Pakistan. The local Baloch community has not benefited through the giant CPEC project as the people still face shortage of basic amenities like water and power.

Pakistan watcher and geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra told India Narrative that the Maulana’s charisma and initiating a mass movement can be termed a success but the results of the Gwadar Ko Haq Do Movement do not seem to be yielding results.

Kinra adds: “Earlier as well, on December 21, Maulana Baloch had threatened to start a million march to Quetta over enforced disappearances, but this topic was never part of the agreement between the Maulana and the Balochistan government. Even his main demand of preventing illegal trawlers in Balochistan waters hasn’t seen any progress. It would be interesting to see what will Maulana Baloch do next”.

The local people have been deprived of jobs as Chinese projects have taken away their coastal lands as well as fishing rights in the Arabian Sea. The large-scale Gwadar protests were also against Chinese security policies due to which the movement of Baloch people has been severely restricted in Gwadar.

Feeling discriminated and deprived, Baloch nationalists have also upped their attacks against Chinese projects as well as Pakistani security forces.

The issue of the dignity of the Baloch has assumed importance. The Maulana said that Pakistani security forces are still humiliating the people at the check posts in Gwadar and illegal fishing by foreign trawlers continues along the Makran coast.

The Chinese government also took notice of the protests in Gwadar where it is engaged in building the Gwadar port. A foreign ministry spokesperson labelled the protests as fake news.

The protests against the CPEC have caught Pakistan on the wrong foot. The government is caught between loyalty to China and public opposition to the CPEC. Prime Minister Imran Khan plans to visit Beijing this week to resolve multiple issues that plague the CPEC projects.