Defence News: Laborers working on the ambitious China-Pakistan economic corridor project were gunned down by unidentified gunmen who came on motorcycles. Showering the workers with bullets at close range, it seemed that they may be locals who did not like the idea of being robbed of their land and resources and took on violence to raise their concerns. The attack took place around 20 km from the gwadar port city which is being built to squeeze out resources from Baluchistan.
The $57-billion Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative is not without it’s issues. Apart form being a loser’s deal from Pakistani point of view, it is a violation of Indian territory which China and Pakistan have occupied. Also, Baluchistanis feel that they have not got their fair share of their own resources and minerals. China and Pakistan have been suspected of extracting resources and treating the area like a pre-WW2 colony. Genocides by Pak army to suppress voices is well known to the world. Such violence in response to continued suppression of the Baloch is but expected.
“All the laborers were shot at close range,” said senior levies official Muhammad Zareef. Nadeem Javaid, who advises Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government and works closely on the CPEC programme, told Reuters earlier in the week that the Gwadar-Xinjiang corridor should be operational from June next year. He said Pakistan expects up to 4 percent of global trade to pass through it by 2020. It may be an over expectation even by a long shot, as not many countries are expected to join. India has specifically denied joining it as it passes through Indian territory held by China/Pak.
Baluchistan, has long faced security concerns. Separatists in the province have waged a campaign against the central government for decades, demanding a greater share of the gas-rich region’s resources. Security officials have said previously that terrorists trying to disrupt construction on the CPEC have gunned 44 workers since 2014, all of whom were Pakistani. Pakistan’s military created an army division in 2015, believed to number more than 10,000 troops, specifically to protect CPEC projects and Chinese workers.
No group has admitted responsibility for the shootings yet. Just a day earlier, a suicide bomber targeting a Pakistani senator killed 26 people and injured 40, Baluchistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said. It’s evident that apart form economic trouble, CPEC will have to deal with local people who refuse to be suppressed in order to survive. Do leave your thoughts in comments below.