On January 2, 2023, the leader of the Gwadar Rights Movement (Haq Do Tehreer), Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rahman issued a warning to Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar Port Area.
The protestors blocked the port entrance and Gwadar East Bay Expressway. The route is a key artery that connects the port with the Pakistan Main Highway Network.
The protestors demand that Pakistan Government adhere to the following demands: stop illegal trawling in Maritime boundaries, recover missing Baloch people, close unnecessary checkpoints and give primacy to the local Baloch people instead of giving more importance to the Chinese. The recent massive civilian movement, which is shaking the Pakistani authorities, was started by the local people of Gwadar, namely by Zainab Aidok Lashkari, an elderly women leader demanding basic amenities like clean drinking water and health. But eventually, this movement took a mammoth shape in the leadership of Maulana mainly because of the repressive policies of the Pak establishment.
The locals also want the government to ease the curbs placed on informal trade with Iran and end narcotics trafficking and sale. They demand maximum trade concessions in border trade with neighbouring Iran.
The protests are going on for about two months. Maulana earlier had threatened the Chinese fishing twarlers that if they don’t stop illegal fishing around the Gwadar and Makran coast, they will even use arms to stop them.
Since 2021, Chinese nationals in Pakistan have become prey and easy targets for Baloch Militants. In July 2021, nine Chinese nationals were killed in a bomb attack.
The Chinese Government in Beijing have put pressure on the Shahbaz Sharif Government to ensure the security of its officials in Pakistan.
Maulana Rahman has further threatened the government by stating that he will stop all sorts of Chinese Projects in Gwadar and prevent the movement of top-level dignitaries from the port complex.
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has found an all-weather friend or iron brother in China. The communist nation has developed a network of roads, highways, railways, and special economic zones called the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a sub-project in its larger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The southern end of this corridor starts from Gwadar (Baluchistan Province) in the south to Kashgar in Xinjiang Autonomous Region in North-western China.
The entire project has a value of more than $50 Billion. It was launched in the year 2015, three years after Xi Jinping came to power in China.
The Gwadar Port is considered a crown jewel in the entire project.