Chinese stakeholders’ investments in Balochistan have grown steadily over the past two decades. However, they are destroying the environment and marine life, besides denying jobs to locals.
On September 7, Aslam Bhootani, a lawmaker from Balochistan, decried “ongoing exploitation” by the Chinese companies working on various power projects in Balochistan, reported The HK Post.
Bhootani charged that the Chinese companies are playing havoc in the area, which he affirmed, asking the government to “rein in the companies.”
Bhootani also asserted that it seemed those companies considered themselves not answerable to anyone as they had been operating under the protection of the Pakistani Army, reported The HK Post.
According to him, the Chinese companies, which had set up a coal plant at Lasbela, were destroying marine life and ending the livelihoods of local fishermen. The Pakistani army and the central government are controlling the region of Balochistan with an iron fist and exploiting its precious resources.
Now, the area is open to China for exploitation with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) deal and ongoing projects.
The HK Post reported that the acquisition of Gwadar port, the exclusion of Baloch firms and labour from Gwadar and associated CPEC projects, the exclusion of native fishermen, and the destruction of natural ambience have intensified pre-existing feelings of regionalism in Balochistan, with Baloch nationalist forces either wholly rejecting the projects or voicing for a greater share in them, reported The HK Post.
The Chinese projects are apparently causing the dislocation of Baloch people from their settlements. For instance, fishermen living in some of the oldest neighbourhoods of Gwadar for centuries are now rehabilitated to the north of Gwadar, Noken Mullah Band. Many view this as a plan to coerce locals to leave the area.
In July 2022, Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, the chief of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) in a video message urged China to stop CPEC projects in Balochistan as it has forcibly displaced lakhs of indigenous people and destroyed their properties.