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Pakistan targets fiery Baloch leader amid Gwadar anti-China protests

Gwadar protest leader Maulana Hidayat-Ur-Rehman of the Haq Do Tehreek (Photo: Twitter)

The Balochistan police has registered cases of murder, attempt to murder and provoking people for violence against Maulana Hidayat-Ur-Rehman, the leader of the Haq Do Tehreek (Give Rights to Gwadar) movement. The nearly eight-week long mass movement saw violence last week in which a policeman was killed.

Rehman, the leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) in Balochistan, has channelised Baloch resentment against Pakistani and Chinese economic interests into popular movement. He even gave a call to the Chinese nationals to leave Gwadar in December 2022.

A police official told Pakistani newspaper Dawn that the maulana has not been arrested as he disappeared from Gwadar. The police, however, managed to arrest the maulana’s second-in-command Hussain Wadala.

The police reportedly arrested nearly 100 people including local journalist Obaidullah whose detention led to condemnation by journalist unions across Pakistan. Obaidullah, who works for a Karachi-based Urdu daily, was later released by the police. The detained protesters were imprisoned in districts outside Gwadar.

The Baloch community has been holding peaceful sit-ins by blocking access to the China-built Gwadar port as well as the coastal highway. The protesters want an end to illegal trawling by the Chinese, basic rights like provision of water, power and jobs, and also opening up the border with Iran for trade.

A sensitive issue with the Baloch protesters is the reduction in the number of security checkpoints which have been set-up by Pakistani security agencies for providing protection to Chinese workers and engineers working on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the country. Many Chinese nationals have been killed in attacks by Baloch rebels.


Violence broke out in Gwadar in the last week of December after talks between the government and the protesters failed. The police fired teargas and arrested people. The government brought peace to Gwadar by banning gatherings and cutting off internet connectivity.

Pakistan cannot take action against Chinese trawlers indulging in deep sea fishing for upsetting its deep diplomatic relations with Beijing. China too has maintained a studied silence on the matter as it pushes harder for the construction of a deep-sea port. The Baloch community views the Beijing-Islamabad economic relationship in Balochistan with suspicion.

Nearly two months back Chinese President Xi Jinping had urged Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to increase security for Chinese nationals working in Pakistan. Beijing has also been pressing Islamabad to devote more finances to the CPEC projects as well as paying dues to Chinese companies.