New Delhi: The CPEC agency – a joint agency of the Pakistani and Chinese governments to oversee CPEC projects – has begun construction of a fenced wall around the city of Gwadar, causing massive dissatisfaction and excitement in the region. A wall 10 feet high will cover the length of 30 km.
Human rights defenders argue that, in addition to maintaining the secrecy of the projects, one of the main goals of the Gwadar fencing is to control the entry and exit of people entering and leaving the port city, as one of the main parts of the fence plan is to provide two entry points for the Projects to build city. Activists fear that the entry and exit control mechanism will be developed to prevent human rights activists and media from entering the city and reporting on the serious human rights violations committed by the Pakistani army in the region.
“The CPEC agency also plans to install 500 HD cameras to monitor activity and movement of people, further transforming the city into a surveillance state. It is a privilege to mention that more than 15,000 soldiers from the Special Security Division, consisting of Pakistani (9,000) and Chinese soldiers (6,000), are already guarding the projects and providing security for the Chinese workers. “According to the exclusive details accessed by Zee News.
Security experts believe the fencing is an indication that the military base will be established soon as the PLA is working on a war-scale to establish a military base in Gwadar and to use Gwadar Port and Gwadar International Airport for their warships and fighter jets to operate – a development that China and Pakistan want to cover from the world. Locals in Balochistan have spoken of the presence of significant numbers of PLA Navy-Marine Corps soldiers in the port of Gwadar. They believe Chinese soldiers are ready to be deployed in the port and throughout the fenced area.
A number of scholars have highlighted military intentions behind CPEC projects. Francesca has pointed out that CPEC is indeed a military project under the guise of an economic project. Marino also stressed that the land acquisition in the area was done without the consent of the locals and without adequate compensation.
The fencing project is also vehemently rejected by Pakistani intellectuals and scientists. Pakistani scholar Muhammad Amir Rana has argued that the fencing project was inappropriate and “fencing is seen as one of the last resort to address cross-border security threats and security gaps. Fencing cities would therefore require even stronger reasons. “
Interestingly, around 80 new build projects funded by China were not included in the fence project as they are meant to be for the leisure and luxury of Chinese officers working at the CPEC.
There is another aspect to this, however, as Baloch nationalists and exile leaders argue that another important purpose behind the project and the subsequent fencing is to ensure rapid demographic change in the region by replacing Baluchis with Punjabis and Pakhtuns. Ex-soldiers, especially from the Punjab region, are quick to settle in and around Gwadar.
In addition to dissidents from Baluchi, representatives from Balochistan and the Pakistani government have also started to voice their concerns. Gwadar-Lasbela National Assembly (MNA) member, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, expressed concern earlier this month about the government’s plans to use the guise of security to fight Gwadar. He also stated that the erection of fences not only creates doubts in the minds of the locals, but also creates doubts in the minds of the locals and prevents them from taking advantage of CPEC projects in the area. He added: “The people of Gwadar will feel alienated from the groundbreaking mega-project,” he said, expressing hope that the authorities concerned would review the decision in the greater interest of the people of Balochistan. “
Rahim Zafar, a Balochian leader of the opposition PPP, has stated that the fencing exercise in Gwadar constitutes a grave human rights violation. Speaking to the Western media, he said, “This will affect people’s freedom of movement. It’s also illegal and unconstitutional. Fencing will increase local people’s resentment against Islamabad. “
Similarly, the former Prime Minister of Balochistan, Abdul Malik, has expressed concern about the intentions of democratic change, saying, “They are trying to relocate the local population in the name of security. We will oppose this and work with other political parties. “
It is believed that global human rights defenders have started to take notice of the surveillance and military project and will declare Pakistan guilty and stop the project.