Baloch Activist Denounces Gwadar Fencing Project as Symbolic of Broader Marginalization

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

In a fervent speech at the Quetta Press Club on Saturday, Mahrang Baloch, a Balochistan-based activist, condemned the ongoing Gwadar Fencing Project, describing it as emblematic of the broader marginalization of the region under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Organized by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), the conference drew a diverse crowd of activists, intellectuals, scholars, lawyers, and social and political leaders, all united in their opposition to the project.

Baloch began her address by asserting that the metaphorical fencing of Gwadar had begun with the inception of CPEC’s mega projects. “There is a fence that we can physically see and feel, but Gwadar has been metaphorically fenced since the approval of these mega projects,” she declared. “Balochistan has been declared a military zone, with the benefits of development disproportionately favoring Punjab, leaving us with floods, devastation, and neglect.”

The activist highlighted the stark contrast between the supposed benefits of CPEC and the reality faced by the people of Balochistan. Instead of prosperity, Balochistan has experienced a continuous state of fear and destruction. She cited recent floods as an example of the neglect and insufficient aid provided to the region. “Generators were given to us for pumping water, but we couldn’t demand the oil needed to run them,” she said, emphasizing the lack of practical support. “It is shameful that Pakistan has deployed two lakh defense personnel to control around one lakh people in Gwadar. These so-called protectors were safe in their homes while our city was drowning.”

Baloch further criticized the lack of transparency surrounding Gwadar’s development. According to her, the narrative presented to the outside world through iconic photographs of progress is misleading. Journalists attempting to report on the situation face significant obstacles, receiving limited and controlled access to the region. “The famous photographs we see are just for publicity. Both the general public and journalists are carefully monitored, with restricted permission to observe the so-called development in Gwadar,” she explained.

The conference underscored the ongoing struggles faced by the people of Balochistan. According to Baloch, state terrorism is rampant, with numerous instances of abductions in urban areas of Gwadar. “Within a week, around 25 Baloch individuals have been abducted from urban areas of Gwadar,” she revealed. The pervasive fear among locals, exacerbated by the CPEC projects, starkly contrasts with the growth and prosperity that similar projects bring to other countries.

In her concluding remarks, Baloch called on the Pakistani administration to halt the Gwadar Fencing Project and address the grievances of Balochistan’s people. She emphasized the need for inclusive development and respect for human rights, urging the government to prioritize the welfare of the region’s inhabitants.

The BYC’s condemnation of the Gwadar Fencing Project highlights the ongoing tensions surrounding CPEC and its implications for marginalized communities in Balochistan. The conference raised critical questions about development, security, and autonomy in the region, drawing attention to the urgent need for a more equitable and transparent approach to development in Gwadar.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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