Pakistan, which is fast becoming the rental state of the Communist Party of China (CPC), under pressure from Xi Jinping’s administration, has now started erecting a wall of barbed fencing around Gwadar city. The fencing project, if and when completed, will cut off the heart of Gwadar city, leaving only one entry point and one exit point for the city’s residents, reports Sunday Guardian.
The CPEC authority is building a wall measuring 10 feet in height, covering the length of 30 km, has now created a massive discontent and furore in the region. China, which is worried about the safety of its men and machine stationed at the strategic Gwadar port, has forced the Pakistanis to create a divide in Gwadar restricting the local Balochis to travel within the city.
Several Human Rights activists fear that the entry-exit control mechanism is being developed to prevent the entry of human rights activists and media from entering into the city and thus restricting the reporting on the severe human rights violations by the Pakistan Army in the region.
The Gwadar port, located on the coast of Arabian Sea in the Balochistan province, is now occupied by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and are developing a military base. The CPC has deployed a “significant” number of men from the People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps at Gwadar already.
The fencing, which is scheduled to be completed within a month, is being funded by Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives. The Pakistan government has allocated Pakistani Rs 1,475.9 million for “Gwadar Safe City Project Phase-I”. The entire area from Coastal Highway to Zero Point Gwadar is to be closed off with fencing.
The fencing project will turn Gwadar into an ‘open prison’
The fencing starts from Pishukan village, passes the Balochistan Broadway Road, and Gwadar Airport, thus encircling all the villages that lie in between. This fencing project will reportedly turn Gwadar into an open prison.
According to the government officials in Gwadar, over 600 surveillance cameras at suitable distances have also been installed. This, the reports say is to ensure that anyone who comes near the fence or tries to enter the city, apart from those authorised entry, is spotted and taken down. Some lawmakers also believe that China could introduce a ‘permit system’ to monitor or regulate entry and exit from the walled city for security reasons.
The decision to build a wall at Gwadar comes after China’s increased pressure to increase safety measures around the city following the May 2019 Pearl Continental hotel attack, which sits on the “Koh e Batil” hill overlooking the Gwadar port.
The Members of Balochistan freedom groups had entered the highly guarded hotel on 11 May, which at the time was only reserved for senior Chinese and Pakistani officials who were engaged in the CPEC projects. In the clash, which lasted for several hours, eight people, including three hotel infiltrators, were killed. The attackers had entered the city through sea route.
This incident had massively irked the Chinese leadership, which had questioned the capabilities of the Pakistan government. The CPC had immediately raised and deployed a special force of 15,000 men named “Special Security Division” (SSD) comprising 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel to guard Chinese assets in the Balochistan region at the cost of Pakistani Rs 0.5 billion to protect the Chinese from the Baloch freedom fighters, who have been able to target CPEC projects at regular intervals.
Pakistan wants to change demography in Balochistan, says Baloch activists
The Pakistanis, in the coming few years, wants to house Chinese and Punjabis in the region so as to bring a demographic change and reduce the ethnic Baloch to a minority.
“Deputy Commissioner of Gwadar, Major (retd) Abdul Kabir Khan has been telling us that this fencing is being done to protect the local Baloch. Protection from whom? The truth is that securing Gwadar city is the first step to bring in a demographic change in the region so that ‘outsiders’ can feel safe and start settling here. As per local officials, only outsiders will be allowed to stay in these fenced regions in the coming years, with the locals being issued hourly permits to enter the city,” a Gwadar-based junior level government official said to Sunday Guardian.
Naseem Baloch, Organiser of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) Diaspora Committee, said that the local Baloch living in Gwadar believe that by fencing Gwadar, the Pakistan Army was planning to carry out demographic changes.
“The life of an ordinary Baloch is very hard in the region. There are police check posts every 200 metres where the locals are humiliated and assaulted for no reason. When the fencing comes up, it will become very difficult for the Baloch to step out or get into Gwadar,” he added.
Gwadar port is strategically important for China for its energy needs as well as to increase its maritime influence in the Indian Ocean. Over and above its investment in Gwadar Port, China has also invested in Sindh province for building four coal-based power projects, two each in the Port Qasim and Thar areas.