Conflicts & War

More than 100 protesters arrested in southern Pakistan

Islamabad, Dec 30 (EFE).- Authorities in the coastal city of Gwadar in southern Pakistan reported Friday having arrested over 100 protesters to recover control of the locality that has witnessed demonstrations for two months now over the economic conditions in the region.

“Today we have got control of the Gwadar city back from the protesters,” Zia ullah Langau, the home minister of Balochistan province – where the city is situated – told EFE, after imposing an emergency law that checks the right to assemble peacefully.

The minister said the city was back at its usual pace, although telecommunications services were still interrupted, while the authorities continued to look for the leader of the Haq Do Tehreek (HDT) movement, Hidayat ur Rehman, who has been behind the demonstrations.

“During the last four days over 100 protesters have been arrested but the police is still hunting for their leader,” said Langau.

Thousands of protesters, led by the HDT, have been demonstrating peacefully for two months in Gwadar, demanding an end to illegal trawling, the elimination of security controls and the opening of trade on the Pakistan-Iran border, as well as the supply of drinking water.

But these demonstrations pose a threat to the interests of Islamabad, which sees Gwadar as a key city for its economic growth as its port is a important part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China seeks an outlet to the Arabian Sea by connecting the city of Kasghar in northwest China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar.

The Pakistani authorities have started a crackdown on the movement since the death of a police officer in clashes with protesters on Tuesday. Both sides accused one another of being behind the violence.

For his part, Langau said Friday that the authorities have accepted all the requests of the demonstrators, and accused the organizers of seeking political gain.

The HDT has become a major political force in the area by its ability to draw large crowds to protests, including large numbers of women. EFE


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