Protests continued in Gwadar on Friday for the 19th successive day as locals, led by women, demand basic rights, including access to clean drinking water and an end to "trawler mafia".
The protesters say the authorities have duped the people of Gwadar in the name of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying they haven't benefited from it despite promises to the contrary. They also want assurances to safeguard the livelihoods of the fisherfolk community, who don't have access to basic facilities, while their livelihood is under threat due to illegal fishing activities.
As #Gwadar and other hashtags on the protest remained top trends for the last days, Member of National Assembly Mohsin Dawar in a tweet said: "#Gwadar is demanding the most basic of rights" as thousands from the port city and other areas of Balochistan including Turbat, Pishkan, Zamran, Buleda, Ormara and Pasni continue their sit-in.
Meanwhile, a resolution submitted by PML-N MPA Samiullah Khan in the Punjab Assembly on Thursday urged the federal government to accept the demands of the people of Gwadar without any delay.
A delegation of the provincial government met the protesters who have since said that unless they get assurance from either the provincial chief minister, the chief secretary or the Quetta corps commander, their sit-in would continue.
Balochistan's former chief minister Jam Kamal slammed the area's elected representatives over their failure to visit the protesters despite the passage of nearly three weeks.
On social media, however, Kamal wasn't spared with Twitterati pointing out that he was the chief minister for more than three years, and was equally culpable for the "bad governance" in the port city.
A Twitter user questioned the silence of Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi on the protest as one of the demands were related to "trawler mafia".
Maulana Hidayat ur Rehman, a local leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Balochistan, is another key individual leading the protests.
Talking to Voicepk.net, he called the protest a social, political and public campaign to resolve not only issues of Gwadar but the province.
"This is not only 'Haq do Gwadar' [give rights to Gwadar] but also 'Haq do Balochistan' [give rights to Balochistan]," he said.
The main demands of the protest included action against the trawler mafia operating in waters along the Balochistan coast, while granting locals the right to fish without any pressure from such groups.
Rehman also dismissed claims allegations that the protester were engineered and funded by foreign entities.
"The authorities have not listened to the grievances of the affectees who are protesting for their rights. We don't have water, electricity and jobs," he said.
In a Dawn report, Prof Mumtaz Baloch from Balochistan University’s political science department said Rahman was filling out the vacuum, which political forces had left vacant for quite some time.
According to media reports, Balochistan police issued orders to send 5,500 police officers to Gwadar from various other districts for maintenance of law and order in the city.