In restive Balochistan protests now engulf capital Quetta

New Delhi, Nov 18: The simmering discontent among the Baloch community against alienation by Pakistan has spread across the province from the strategic Gwadar port city in the south to Kalat in Central Balchistan to Quetta in the north.

Even as Maulana Hidayatur Rehman leads a protest in Gwadar against Chinese fishing trawlers and the blockage of fishing opportunities for Baloch fishermen for over three weeks, the Baloch are also protesting in capital Quetta over the shortage of gas supply as well as in Kalat over laggardly flood relief.

On Thursday, the protesters blocked the road leading to the Quetta airport over reduced supplies or no supplies of gas. People are facing problems as the temperatures are dipping and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has introduced load-shedding. Pakistani media reports that all of Pakistan is facing shortage of gas including its most powerful province of Punjab where the supply has been restricted to eight hours from the earlier 16 hours.

Pakistan teeters on the verge of bankruptcy and has sounded out the International Monetary Fund for loans. It is also seeking rescheduling of debt to manage its poor financial situation. The country has a large energy import bill which forced the government to curb imports of crude oil, LNG, and LPG this year. In April this year, it had to cut power supply to both domestic and industrial users.

In central Balochistan, the flood-affected Baloch resorted to blocking of the Quetta-Karachi highway over poor relief and rehabilitation measures by the government. Daily Quetta Voice reported that despite two months of the devastating rains and floods, the people have not been provided aid. The protestors complained that immediately before the floods they had been severely impacted by the severe drought.

The protestors demanded support in the form of financial help, relief, and rehabilitation activities from the government.

In southern Balochistan, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman, the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has been leading the protest against the non-implementation of the agreement signed between the protestors and the Balochistan government in December last year. His Haq Do Tehreek movement, Give Rights to Gwadar, had caught the attention of the global media as thousands of women and children joined him for sit-ins in the sensitive Gwadar city. The global spotlight forced China to issue a clarification that the protests against the CPEC are fake news.

Once again the maulana has given a call for protests as the Baloch people find the Arabian Sea inaccessible for fishing due to the implementation of the CPEC projects in Balochistan and also due to the construction of the Gwadar port. Rehman has threatened to block the expressway, Gwadar port and CPEC projects if their demands are not fulfilled immediately.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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