In the last 26 days, a protest has emerged in Gwadar from the rise of Maulana Hidayat Ur Rehman. The movement, “Gwadar ko Huqooq Do Tehreek” consists of residents from multiple areas of the Makran division. With Maulana’s tweet of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, “Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge; Wo din ke jis ka wada hai” The protest included a large number of women for basic rights in the developmental phase of the port city. Demands articulation were pro-public as the government was actively having negotiations of talks with Maulana Hidayat Ur Rehman. Minister for Planning and Development; Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledai discussed with him and responded for implementation of demands. The protest highlighted the basic facilities and banning of illegal fishing from trawlers in the port city.
Precisely, demand articulation has a history of passive output in Gwadar for locals. Such as less share of the Ehsas Program in social protection. Public peaceful demands are pushing interests but, the government seems apathetic. Moreover, short-term initiatives and negotiations with the protesters by government officials are only meant to limit the systematic process of working machinery of government output.
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From Maulana in politics to the slow process of systematic machinery of government; some of the main issues that political minds are concerned of; Firstly, Is Maulana a seasonal politician whose demands are limited to party affiliations? Secondly, is the working-class community leader different from other politicians? Third, is the legitimization of border fencing and legislatures for the port city concerning the public? Fourth, what are the future of Gwadar in governance and elite politics? Fifth, are citizens of Gwadar pro-CPEC?
Maulana’s political history coincides with his demands. He was born in a family whose father and grandfather were fishermen. Further, he was associated with the student wing of JI. His rise in the political arena dates back to 2003. He consisted of provincial and National assembly seats. Maulana’s demands for the abolition of the token system, facilitation of border trade, and confiscating of illegal fishing trawlers within 12 NM of provincial coastline were accepted by the government. From his parental background, he seems to lead a mass of people who are suffering from basic facilities, however, the shutdown of wine stores in Gwadar was another demand accepted by the government which provoke questions. Further, JUI leader, Sirajul Haq warned for country-wide agitation movement if demands were not meant. He also met his presence in the protest.
Furthermore, Maulana as a leader that convinced thousands of protesting, especially women highlights the significance of political culture in Gwadar. The vacuum that political elites and traditional politicians didn’t capture is the working fisher community whose livelihood is limited to sea fishing. This provides a safe haven for Maulana in the next elections. As for the political elite’s articulations of populist slogans didn’t play vital feedback; Maulana captures the vacuum for suffering people. Thus, he is distinctive from the other politicians who were concerned about their checkmates of magical proponents of which the majority were unaware. They formed in coalitions with BAP and now, they are back to the game of throne under the leadership of Abdul Quddus Bizenjo. Maulana seems conscious if unclosed to the mid-night flag wavers.
For development in the port city in the evolution of the CPEC initiative, legitimacy prevailed in a short time. Fencing of Iran border and now, markets for trading are established by the government however, Gwadar is more of these demands. As it is a “jewel in the crown of BRI, and the new wave of CPEC-W in the troika of China-Pakistan-Iran, there is a need for local employments ineffective progress. Thousands of skilled, and graduated students are unemployed; it is one of the top priorities that governments from the center and province ignore.
The infrastructure development strategy by the Belt and Road Initiative, notably CPEC subordinates in the project and core-periphery economic development of China leads from good governance. The future of CPEC depends on the governance challenges that China prioritizes the most in peaceful negotiations in its developmental model. Gwadar remains the epicenter of the mega-trading zone in the region which needs comprehensive policies from stakes of political elite and locals. The slogans of the poor masses in the articulation of interests for their survival is value-demanding output from the government. Since it has been a norm of teasing output with a creeping geopolitical troika of good governance. As soon the output of education, health, connectivity, media, and basic facilities is completed by the government; the feedback grows in the developmental frame with rapid growth in Gwadar and in the CPEC project.
The probability of questionnaire of locals in Gwadar about responsive projects like CPEC has always remained yes with consent. The demands of people are basic needs articulated in the project development which is the inclusion of bilateralism. Disinformation has emerged so fast in diplomatic stances that have further, alienated the connectivity of peaceful co-existence. Moreover, for local citizens who favor responses from the governed are their basic needs, and stakes in the political system.
The Author is a Student of Political Science at GCU Lahore and belongs to Turbat, Balochistan. He tweets at @qambibaloch.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agree with them.
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