The Gwadar protests are more than just a story of the manipulation of food insecurity and the frustrations of local people. It also illustrates the failure of the economic development strategy based on fallacies. Hailed as the flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese-run port of Gwadar has recently made headlines as the site of mass protests. These mostly peaceful demonstrations continued in the city. Pakistan’s volatile Baluchistan province on the Arabian Sea coast, for several weeks before being resolved in late December. The protesters’ demands included an end to illegal fishing by Chinese trawlers. The reducing security checks in the city, and easing restrictions on trade with Iran.
Authorities To Contain The Situation
The coercive measures alone despite the fact. They have deployed more than 5,000 additional police officers in Gwadar. They blamed China for the lack of water and electricity in Gwadar. There have been protests in the city. Men, women and children from Sindh and many areas along the Makran coast participated in the December demonstrations. The scale of the protests has made it difficult for the authorities to contain the situation. The movement quickly became a national cause. The political parties are rallying in support of the protesters one after another. The country has finally united in the face of the long-running campaign. The security establishment in Baluchistan which mainly targets separatist groups. This change in public mood has ramifications for the governments of Pakistan and China.
Chinese Communist Party
The Pakistani government announced that it would accept all of the protesters’ demands. The demonstrations were led by Maulana Hayat Rahman. The Secretary General of the Baluchistan branch of Jamaat-e-Islamic. This organization, The largest religious and political groups in the country. Its traditionally been close to the Pakistani military. Even signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Communist Party. But in recent years, Jamaat-e-Islamic has been sidelined by the political establishment in favor of more radical groups such as Tarek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
Influence Of Islamist Organizations
The Islamist group has been the main winner in the recent protests. Its exploiting local discontent to restore influence over the military. The group emphasized that it is not against China-led development projects in Gwadar. Meanwhile the Jamaat-e-Islami brought demonstrations into the mainstream of Pakistani politics. The helping to curb the influence of Islamist organizations (with the blessing of the security services). The authorities responded to the riots by arresting the Baluchistan nationalist leaders, although they did not start the protests, but they did not arrest the Jamaat-e-Islamic leader.
Access To Technology Transfers
However the Gwadar protests are more than just a story of gouging in food, water and energy insecurity. Its as well as the frustration of the local population. It also illustrates the failure of the economic development strategy based on fallacies. As US analyst Arif Rafiq notes. “Pakistan, like Djibouti, Kenya and Sri Lanka, has assumed that China’s Shenzhen or Sekou model is not only repeatable. But also plug and play. In fact the entire CPEC project was based on the idea that by importing old or even dying. Chinese industries that depended on cheap labor. Pakistan would gain access to technology transfers and start a virtuous circle.
That would make its economy prosperous. However, the decision-makers in Islamabad failed to take into account the fact that the same business environment that has led to the decline of Pakistani industry will also discourage foreign-owned firms. The Moreover, Pakistan’s leaders exaggerated the geographical advantages of Gwadar and built their plans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor around the myth that connectivity would be a source of growth almost in itself. Linkages between two regions with underdeveloped economies do not lead to double-digit growth. The port of Gwadar is just a gateway to a remote region that has never prospered. Its economic dynamism is incomparable with the ports of other Pakistani cities, such as Karachi and Qassim.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor
Pakistan’s corrupt incompetent and authoritarian system has only served to reinforce these structural weaknesses. She failed to consult the local population before embarking on a fictitious project. Which were often carried out at their expense (despite constant promises of better living conditions). People in Baluchistan have sense of expulsion since long before the launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. This feeling was only exacerbated by the lease of Gwadar port to a Chinese company and the predatory business practices that followed.
Chinese Fishing Vessels
Projects in China did not generate local jobs as expected. Chinese fishing vessels have depleted the fish stocks on which many in Baluchistan depend for their livelihood. China has not fulfilled its promises to build a vocational training center. The desalination plant and hospital in Gwadar (although it has established an emergency medical center there). The economic activity achieved by China in Gwadar has greatly benefited Chinese company. The workers led many locals to feel a deep hostility towards Beijing and the Pakistani government. They are seen as complicit in their exploitation.
Increasing Dependence In Gwadar
The Gwadar port project does not help Balochis tan integrate into the rest of Pakistan. It rather has the opposite effect. The locals no longer believe that the government will fulfil. Its obligations to them. They are used to emptying promises. His discontent with the Chinese is such that security checks in Gwadar are unlikely to be lifted any time soon. It is doubtful that the Pakistani authorities will ensure that projects in the city provide employment for local residents or prevent Chinese companies from draining the region’s resources. IN general, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has brought little growth to Gwadar or the Pakistani economy in general. This raises growing questions about the cost-benefit ratio of increasing dependence on China. Ultimately for Pakistan and Gwadar may be the starting point for a corridor to nowhere.