Pakistan to fence off Gwadar port to protect Chinese firms

·3-min read
Gwadar port (File Photo)
Gwadar port (File Photo)

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 28 (ANI): Balochistan authorities plan to fence off the entire 24-square-kilometer area surrounding the Gwadar seaport to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project from the rising number of attacks on Chinese installations by the people of Balochistan as a sign of protest.

Citing the sources, Asia Times reported that the Pakistan army, in collaboration with the Makran Administration, Gwadar Development Authority, Gwadar Port Authority and the Balochistan government, would carry out the project under the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan.

Work on erecting barbed-wire fencing around Gwadar's sensitive parts, which is planned to be complete in phases, has already started. Authorities plan to have 15,000 acres of land secured with iron barriers in the first phase of the project, wrote FM Shakil in an article in Asia Times.

There will be only three entry and exit points to monitor the inflow and outflow of traffic.

Government sources revealed that the "Gwadar safe city" would be equipped with more than 500 high-definition surveillance cameras to keep a close watch on "suspicious activities" or unauthorized or forceful intrusions into the city, Asia Times reported.

Some lawmakers believe that China could introduce a "permit system" to monitor or regulate entry and exit from the walled city for security purposes, informed Shakil.

Asia Times quoted the media reports saying that the authorities could enforce a curfew within the fenced areas whenever the security situation demands, slapping restrictions on the movement of the Baloch population living in the surroundings of Gwadar port.

The activities of Baloch people against the Pakistan army and Chinese personnel working on CPEC projects in the province has seen a phenomenal surge during 2020.

Attacks on Chinese interests in the volatile Balochistan province intensified with several Baloch separatist groups showing a greater unity by entering into a 'trans-province' alliance with like-minded armed groups in Sindh, Asia Times reported.

As far as China's involvement in Sindh province is concerned, Chinese companies there are building four coal-based power projects, two each in the Port Qasim and Thar areas. China is also interested in developing the Sindh coastal areas, spreading over 350 kilometers in the southeastern part of the country between the Indus border and the Hub River, informed Shakil.

The fencing plan has also triggered resentment among the Baloch population, who thought the authorities would go beyond their constitutional limits if they went ahead with the fortification plan. Baloch lawmakers, who swung into action to condemn the fencing plan, are contemplating a move in parliament against the government's designs, Shakil informed in his article.

Asia Times quoted a member of the National Assembly from Gwadar-Lasbela, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, who expressed resentment over the decision and said that fencing Gwadar in the name of security will create doubts in the minds of the local population.

"Gwadar should have been a hub of business and trade, but unfortunately, the government is making it a security zone, which will discourage investment in the area," he said.

Mir Kabir Mohammad Shahi, a lawmaker and National Party senator, said that fencing off Gwadar city under the safe city project would divide the coastal area into two parts, adding that "Those who regularly visit the city will be given a card, without which no one could enter the city."

"The decision of the federal government to fence the port city amounts to divide it into two parts. In an era when the Berlin Wall fell, the city is being divided under the garb of security concerns. It has raised serious concerns amongst people of the area," Mian Raza Rabbani, Former Senate Chairman, and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Senator said in a statement.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, however, spurned the opposition's concerns over the fencing plan last week, saying opposition parties had given it a political twist to exploit the situation. He claimed that only a mountainous area at the back of the port city was being fenced as part of Gwadar's safekeeping enclosure to make it a smart city, Asia Times reported. (ANI)