Communities in Pakistan continue to feel the alienation from the mega China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. On Tuesday, people from scores of villages protested against an under-construction CPEC road for cutting them off.
The villagers also staged a protest against the National Highway Authority (NHA) and other Pakistani authorities for not providing them with link roads to access other areas.
The $62 billion transnational project continues to rile various communities in Pakistan.
Pakistani newspaper Dawn says that the protesting villagers gathered near Barwala and blocked traffic. They carried banners and placards inscribed with their demands for restoring connectivity.
The villagers said they had been cut off from each other due to the CPEC road. Though they complained to their local representatives and various departments they were not provided relief. "We are cut off through land networks due to construction of the Hakla-D.I. Khan CPEC road,” a protestor, Kareem Nawaz, told Dawn.
Similar protests have been organised against the CPEC in other parts of Pakistan.
In August, Baloch people took out demonstrations against severe shortage of water and power due to the Chinese project in the coastal town of Gwadar. Many protestors were local fishermen who have been banned from fishing in the Arabian Sea due to the Chinese port project.
The Baloch fishermen have also been affected as their lands have been taken over for the construction of the port–a dual-use civilian and naval port. The Gwadar port project forms part of China's widespread Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that seeks to connect continents with a view to opening up new trade routes for China.
Local Baloch politicians supported the protest which effectively brought the port town to a standstill.
With increased presence of the Chinese in the region, their fishing trawlers too have arrived–taking away the catch meant for the local Baloch, further eroding their livelihoods. The benefits of the massive port project have not trickled down to the local community.
The perceived exploitation of the Baloch people has fanned a seven-decade long insurgency in the region with the local nationalists mounting attacks against both Pakistan and China. Islamabad has retaliated by launching gunship attacks.
The series of attacks on Chinese nationals has led to fear among them confining them to their factories and workplaces. The attacks on the Chinese by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has created differences between the two governments.
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