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Protests In Balochistan

Protests In Balochistan:

Over the last few weeks,there have been continuous protests in Gwadar, Balochistan against mega development plans of the port city as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

  • The protesters have sought to draw attention to marginalisation of the local people in the development of the port.
  • Pakistan claims that India has been supporting these protests.

About Balochistan:

  • Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan.
  • It is least populated even though it is the largest province in terms of land size.
  • It is populated in ethnic Baloch people which can be found in modern day Iran and Afghanistan though the majority of Baloch can be found in Balochistan.
  • Balochistan is rich in natural gas and oil and is one of the most important regions of Pakistan.

Uprising in Balochistan:

  • During the withdrawal of the British from the Indian subcontinent, the Kingdom of Balochistan was offered the same offer, either to join India, join Pakistan or remain independent.
  • The king of Balochistan chose to remain independent and it did remain independent for nearly a year.
  • In the year 1948, the Pakistan government, with a combination of military and diplomacy, took control of the region and made it into a part of Pakistan.
  • Due to lack of development and human rights violations in the region done by the Pakistan military and terror groups, the insurgency in Balochistan has been active since 1948.
  • Pakistan claims that India has been supporting these rebel fighters with arms and intelligence.
  • India has long maintained a political stance of not interfering in the internal matters of Pakistan or any other country.
  • Despite Pakistan repeatedly bringing up the Kashmir issue over the years, India had maintained silence on Balochistan.
  • However, in 2016, remarks on Balochistan came in the immediate aftermath of the Independence Day celebration in Pakistan that was dedicated to the independence of Kashmir.
  • India’s response was quick with India’s Prime Minister referring to atrocities of Baloch people in his Independence speech in 2016

About CPEC:

  • The CPEC is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China.
  • It aims to link the Western part of China (Xinjiang province) to the Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan via Khunjerab Pass in the Northern Parts of Pakistan.
  • It is intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects.
  • It will pave the way for China to access the Middle East and Africa from Gwadar Port, enabling China to access the Indian Ocean.
  • CPEC is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The BRI, launched in 2013, aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.