For almost a decade, Pakistanis have been told that the China-Pakistan relationship and especially the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the panacea of all economic challenges facing the country. CPEC was sold as one that would boost investment, employment, connectivity and infrastructural development.
However, what is the reality? The example of Gwadar is useful here.
In end of September, “thousands of people from all over the region gathered to protest the lack of basic facilities in their area. If what they say is to be believed — and their numbers that straddled diverse social backgrounds were compelling testimony — the local residents face severe shortages of drinking water and are given poor health and education facilities. Their situation is compounded by increasing unemployment. Another complaint is that the government has allowed large trawlers access to the Makran coast that the local fishermen with boats cannot match. This further impacts livelihoods.”
According to a Dawn editorial, the protest was “a coming together of an absolutely hapless people against the couldn’t-care-less attitude of their own state. And the administration was, of course, resounding in its silence. The negligence of the state towards the residents of Balochistan has long been a source of friction. It is imperative that it invest heavily and urgently in ensuring food and water, schools and hospitals, roads, employment-generating activities, and all other associated resources that allow people to live dignified lives in satisfactory surroundings.”