Since the Gwadar protests have en­tered the second phase, all roads to the solution go through the Balochistan government and the federal government as well the leadership of the Gwadar protests. It is a matter between the protestors and both governments that should be sorted out without any delay of time.

More procrastination in­creases the chances given to non-state actors to unleash a new chapter of demonising Pak-China re­lations, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar Port. This is already evidenced with the fact that protests were also held in other parts of Gwadar including Pishkan, Zamran, Turbat, Pasni, Buleda, and Ormara, but these were not covered. This act exhib­its the reality that they have nothing to do with the problems of protestors. And when protestors besieged Gwadar port and allegedly stated that the China-driv­en Gwadar port’s development did not engender trickle down effects on their daily lives, stories flashed that China al­legedly sold empty dreams to locals at the expense of its gains.

Since the day Prime Minister Shah­baz Sharif restored the real pace of CPEC within six months and shifted Pak-China relations in top gear, partic­ularly after his successful meeting with President Xi Jinping on the heels of the conclusion of the 20th CPC national congress in Beijing, international play­ers have been galvanised to paint prog­ress of CPEC and Gwadar port nega­tively. Problems come and go between people and the government but it does not mean that they are forever daggers drawn. Their interests and gains are for Pakistan. No power may drive a wedge between them. Both believe that if can­did efforts are put into force Gwadar Port is a game changer for local people as well as the rest of Pakistan.

Let sagacity prevail. It is high time that government bigwigs must sit down with protestors’ leadership and find a way to settle down all grey areas once and for all with a complete sense of se­riousness besides identifying the flaws to know why promises made during the first phase of Gwadar protests could not be materialized and hold liable those who failed to do so. I believe that there are few black sheep in the ranks of government or maybe among pro­testors that botched the harmony and sparked the way for the second phase of Gwadar protests.

If all is observed in a holistic and prag­matic style, my understanding asks many questions. Is there any way for­ward or solution for the Gwadar pro­tests erupting a second time in the capital of South Balochistan? Do the de­mands of protestors led by Maulana Ha­dayat ul Rehman qualify to be met to let the environment of peace prevail, which matters a lot for the local people’s fu­ture progress and a shot in the arm for new investment being planned to pour in Gwadar port and Gwadar’s entire re­gion? Is it true that the government re­neged on promises made one year ago with the protestors of Gwadar?

And finally, is the protest targeted to­ward the China-led Gwadar Port and the presence of Chinese people and the de­velopment that has had a positive impact on the lives of the local people?

Let us be honest with the hard facts. Since protests were last seen in 2021 and are ongoing after a gap of at least one year, neither previously nor so far have the protestors been holding plac­ards bearing anti-China slogans. Even the speeches by protest leader Maula­na Hadayat ur Rehman did not bedev­il the Chinese government and the Chi­nese people.

The protestors’ issue remains that at the time of conceiving Gwadar port, the people of Gwadar were shown grand dreams by the government of Pakistan of the provision of basic civic amenities at their thresholds with an avalanche of development packages that will im­prove their living standards, liveli­hoods and businesses. They were also shown the daydreams by the govern­ment of Pakistan that their kids will get the best educational facilities, their pa­tients will get quality health facilities, their locals will get respectful jobs and their area will be an exemplary model of progress and growth.

Besides, when last year’s protests were called off, the government promised to free Gwadar sea from the illegal trawler mafia bent on plundering ocean resourc­es and snatching their fishing livelihood. The reason is that fishing still accounts for 60 percent to 70 percent of their earnings through which they feed their families. They were promised to elim­inate needless checkpoints erected in many places within Gwadar. They were promised to be respected by personnel at checkposts because they are the right­ful owners of their motherland.

Based on my factual analysis, the so­lution and way forward for an en­tire plethora of issues is acceptance of their rightful demands. Because I am a frequent visitor of Gwadar and I have amicable relations with the local peo­ple of Gwadar alongside bosom friend­ship with Chinese officials, I have been watching every development in Gwadar closely over the last many years. Being an observer of the issue, my narrative is that first of all it is a matter between the Pakistan government and the people of Gwadar. All conflicting issues between them should be settled mutually with­out any delay in time.

The protestors have no complaints about China and China-led development in Gwadar. Protestors’ leadership Maula­na Hadayat ul Rehman is the local emi­nent leader of Jamaat-e-Islami. Recently JI head Sirajul Haq met with the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong.

During the meeting, the top leader­ship of JI including JI secretary general Ameerul Azim, JI Foreign Affairs Depart­ment director Asif Luqman Qazi and al-Khidmat Foundation president Abdu­shakoor were present.

The JI Emir thanked the Chinese aid for the flood-hit area, hoping the neigh­bouring country would continue sup­port in the rehabilitation phase. He also impressed upon the Chinese envoy that strong Pak-China relations were vital for the development and stability of the re­gion. He said CPEC would not only prove beneficial for the development of Pak­istan but its completion linked to the prosperity of the entire region. He called for expediting work on the multi-billion project, particularly focusing on Balo­chistan and its people’s benefit.

He said that the strong and unwavering stance of China on the Kashmir issue was a source of strength and satisfaction for the people of Kashmir and Pakistan and they were highly indebted to the people and the government of China in this regard.

Habib Khan

The writer is a senior freelance journalist. He works for national and international media organisations pitching articles on international relations, economy, diplomacy, governance, corruption and human rights. He tweets at