Following the tense situation across the coastal district of Gwadar and the clashes between police and protesters that have resulted in dozens of arrests and at least one death, the Balochistan’s administration decided to remove the sit-in held by ‘Haq Do Tehreek’ (Gwadar Right Movement) in a bid to provide the security to the Chinese national working the area.
Gwadar is central to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) where workers from Beijing have been involved in the development of the port on the Arabian Sea.
“Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman has held people of Gwadar and surrounding areas hostage through sit-in for past few days,” Balochistan’s Home Minister Meer Ziaullah Langau said addressing a press conference along with Gwadar Inspector General (IG) Police Abdul Khaliq Sheikh.
He said that Gwadar was the future of Pakistan and was going to become the economic hub of the country.
“I went myself [to negotiate with protestors] and accepted many of their 42 demands,” Langau said lashing out at Maulana Hidayat for making obscene speeches against senior people and leaders.
Protest leader Rehman previously accused the state of using force to end what he said was a peaceful protest in Gwadar. He said an operation had been launched against the innocent people of Gwadar.
“The provincial government is oblivious to the situation in Gwadar. If the state is doing the right thing, why did they suspend Internet and mobile services in Gwadar,” he asked in a video statement.
Rehman also vowed to carry on his struggle for the rights of the people of Gwadar.
Langau said that the protest demonstration should be held in a democratic manner. “The families of missing persons have been protesting in front of the press club for a long time and no one has taken any action against them,” the home minister added.
Section 144 imposed in Gwadar for one month
Meanwhile, The Balochistan government in reaction to the martyrdom of a policeman during violent protests on Thursday imposed Section 144 in Gwadar for one month.
Sit-ins and any other public gathering of over five people have been prohibited under Section 144 while the authorities also banned the display of weapons.
The Balochistan home minister directed officials to book suspects over the martyrdom of the constable. He termed such incidents intolerable and urged protesters to opt democratic process.
However, he said, the sit-in in Gwadar was being held at a place where there was movement of Chinese workers.
“Security of Chinese nationals is very important,” the home minister said and added that the provincial government decided to remove the protesters in wake of security concerns.
He said that there were armed men in the sit-in as the protesters had opened fire at the police resulting in the death of a police cop.
Following the death of the policeman on Tuesday, a communication blockade had been put in place, with mobile networks and landlines down.
Markets and businesses have stayed closed since Monday, with residents saying they are running out of food rations.
Speaking about the reports of alleged violence against the women protesters, Langau said that there was no truth in such reports.
He said that miscreants in Gwadar were using women as shields. “When the government goes to arrest the miscreants who are damaging government property, they evict women from their homes.”
The home minister said that the women of Gwadar were conscious and they understood the seriousness of the situation, adding that the statements regarding violence against women in Gwadar and their arrests were based on lies.
“Balochistan is a tribal province where women are treated with respect, I request the mothers and sisters of Gwadar that the state and the government stand with you,” Langau said.
He said that the future of future generations of Gwadar was linked to CPEC and other development projects. “The government is showing patience during the ongoing protests in Gwadar for the last four days. The miscreants in Gwadar are armed with heavy weapons.”
He said that the government was taking all possible measures to provide security to the citizens of Gwadar.