Gwadar’s Woes

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History is being made in Gwadar as its women have dared step outside the allegedly most regressive dogmas to participate in the first-ever largest political rally.
That thousands of local women had joined the ranks of their brethren from all over the region to demand the provision of basic rights is a sad reflection on the affairs of our land. Ever since China decided to pledge close to USD 700 million to transform the key plank of its most ambitious project, Gwadar has remained in the limelight. But while the entire world has its eyes set on the becoming of this crown jewel, we have unfortunately cast the plight of those who were promised the heavens aside. No matter how promising the Gwadar port dream may be, how can they stand behind the project if they have yet to gain access to the fundamentlest of human rights–clean drinking water. The condition of the healthcare sector is abysmal while education prospects remain just as shambolic. To further twist the dagger in, large trawlers given access to the Makran coast are bolting doors shut on their already dwindling livelihood. The very residents who could have easily become the state’s most valuable asset in its transformation plans for a vibrant trade hub are now fast emerging as a big roadblock. However, the propaganda fuelled by New Delhi determined to make everyone and their cat believe that Gwadar is losing its sparkle is also being weaved, far removed from reality. To say Gwadar has suddenly stood in defiance of the CPEC or its mega-investment prospects would be quite off the mark. For the poor region has seemingly forever been a very neglected area as far as health, education and civic amenities are concerned. Trying to manoeuvre one’s way across difficult terrain and scant progress is no small feat. Add to that the downright insulting attitude of maritime security guards employed around the high-security zone. With Islamabad calling a ban on wineries and taking care of the Frontier Corps conundrum, political mercury might cool down. However, these are just elementary measures and would not lead to long-term peace if the ongoing smokescreen prevails. The need of the hour remains reforms to uplift the local people out of poverty may it be through extending the electricity grid, opening schools and colleges or road and air connectivity. Another significant avenue could be opening pathways to Iran to promote regional trade. The blueprint to Dubai 2.0 is already there. What’s needed now is the will to oil the wheels! Let’s counter Indian propaganda with success stories. China is already turbocharging its holistic narrative with well-prepared press interactions. However, the proof of the pudding is always in the tasting. Only a committed government and passionate administration can help seal the confidence deal with aggrieved locals and pave the way for an all-embracing development.