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19 Dec 2021

Farhan Bokhari and Benjamin Parkin, The Financial Times (UK)

Pakistan: Government seeks to defuse tensions as fishermen and residents of Gwadar protest China's port project

"Pakistan seeks to calm protesters at Chinese Belt and Road port project", 19 December 2021

Pakistan’s government has sought to defuse tensions linked to one of China’s showcase Belt and Road investments in the country, striking a deal with protesters who for weeks have demonstrated in the port city of Gwadar.

For the past month, fishermen and other residents of Gwadar, located in the south-western province of Balochistan, have protested in frustration that promised prosperity from the controversial Chinese-built port and other projects has failed to materialise.

Locals complain that fishing trawlers encroach on their waters and that authorities have facilitated billions of dollars worth of Chinese infrastructure investment while neglecting basic services, such as education and drinking water supply.

The backlash attracted the attention of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who wrote last week that he had “taken notice of the very legitimate demands of the hardworking fishermen of Gwadar” and would clamp down on illegal fishing. Pakistan and China are investing about $500m in the port.

The government said on Thursday that it would ban fishing by outside trawlers to protect local fishing rights, as well as expedite projects to improve access to clean drinking water and bolster other public services for local residents, as it sought to bring the protests to an end. [...]