Dreams of lucrative development under China shattered by reality in Pakistan

By Zarak Khan

As part of the "Give Gwadar its Rights" campaign, thousands of Gwadar residents staged a protest on November 20, blocking the expressway leading to the Chinese-operated port. [Zarak Khan/Pakistan Forward]

As part of the "Give Gwadar its Rights" campaign, thousands of Gwadar residents staged a protest on November 20, blocking the expressway leading to the Chinese-operated port. [Zarak Khan/Pakistan Forward]

ISLAMABAD -- The governments of Pakistan and China last week marked 10 years of economic collaboration through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $54 billion joint infrastructure development programme.

But while both governments hail CPEC as a crowning jewel in Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), residents of Gwadar, Balochistan's port city, say China's promises of prosperity and lucrative development for Pakistan turned out to be a pack of lies.

Chairing a meeting in Islamabad last month to review the progress of projects in Gwadar, Pakistani Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said "18 mega uplift projects were completed in Gwadar in record three months", according to the ministry.

Once completed, "all major projects under CPEC in Gwadar ... would become a shining pearl in the region", he said June 14.

A Pakistani naval personnel stands guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port on October 4, 2017. [Amelie Herenstein/AFP]

A Pakistani naval personnel stands guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port on October 4, 2017. [Amelie Herenstein/AFP]

Over the years, CPEC investment has helped Islamabad improve transportation routes and boost the national electricity grid, according to Pakistani officials.

Of particular importance to Beijing, the project has built trade routes connecting China's far-western Xinjiang region to the strategically located Pakistani deep-water Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

However, despite a decade of collaboration, residents and activists say that basic civic issues in Gwadar, such as water, electricity, and quality healthcare and education, have not been resolved.

Locals 'miserable'

Instead, the city has been turned into a security zone, with residents' movements restricted to protect Chinese nationals working at the port from attacks by Baloch militant groups, who are angered by the growing Chinese influence in Balochistan.

"Instead of listening to the lies of Pakistani and Chinese government officials, people should visit Gwadar and see the reality for themselves," said Hameed Haut, a Gwadar-based political activist.

"CPEC did not benefit Gwadar's residents," he said. "Instead, the project made locals' lives miserable."

In December, Pakistani authorities -- at the behest of Beijing, according to locals -- cracked down on a protest movement in Gwadar that was conveying residents' concerns over Chinese influence on their livelihoods and daily lives.

At a protest in mid-November, residents blocked the expressway leading to the Chinese-operated port.

Under the banner of the "Give Gwadar its Rights" campaign, founded by local Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan leader Maulana Hidayatur Rehman, protesters demanded an end to illegal deep-sea fishing by local and Chinese trawlers and the harassment of locals at security checkpoints leading to projects part of the CPEC.

"The Rehman-led movement only seeks an end to the harassment of locals at security checkpoints leading to Gwadar port, illegal deep-sea fishing by local and Chinese trawlers, and to address basic civic issues, such as water and electricity," Haut said.

After a spike in attacks on Chinese citizens and projects by Baloch militant groups, Pakistani authorities established dozens of security checkpoints to protect Chinese nationals working at the port.

In October, Aslam Bhootani, a Pakistani parliamentarian from Gwadar, informed the National Assembly about the exploitation of local residents by Chinese companies working on various projects in the city.

He accused the companies of denying jobs to locals and destroying the environment and marine life in the coastal areas, and called them "cheaters" for not paying taxes.

Beijing's plans for Gwadar

China's unwavering investment in Gwadar, despite security concerns and financial pitfalls, suggests that Beijing has other plans for the port, according to independent analysts.

"The prospects for China projecting military power over the Indian Ocean from Pakistan's western coast are growing," the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) said in March report.

"Pakistan is one of 13 countries named in the Pentagon's most recent report on China's military power as a potential location for additional Chinese military facilities and logistical units to be positioned in support of naval, air, ground, cyber and space power projection," it said.

The report noted "the conspicuous absence of commercial activity at Gwadar -- which has raised the suspicions of expert observers".

A March 2022 report from the Ankara Centre for Crisis and Policy Studies (ACCPS) also suggested that "China's major motivation for wanting to build a port in Gwadar is not commercial".

Rather, it is deemed necessary for "China's internal and foreign security policy".

Pakistan owes China about $30 billion, which accounts for nearly 30% of its foreign debt, according to estimates from 2022.

Islamabad's debt to Beijing continues to grow, but China has refused to defer or restructure the payment and CPEC debt repayments.

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It looks like Pakistan plays a prominent role in China's regional development. And if China is not stopped in Pakistan's territory, on one hand, China's One Road One Belt plan will swallow our entire region in the future. The best way to prevent China's One Belt One Road plan is to support the Baloch and Pashtun groups who are fighting for the freedom of their land against the Pakistani army. The mentioned groups are against China's presence in the region. If China and BRICS do not prevent them, they will even take out the Gulf countries from the control of the West. After waiting for a long time for new members to join the BRICS group of countries, with the holding of the leaders' meeting of this group in South Africa and presence of the leaders of some countries that volunteered to join, including Iran, finally the president of South Africa announced as the host of the leaders' meeting that the group of 6 Iranian countries, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Egypt and Argentina have invited to join the BRICS group as new members. The change of members of the BRICS group, which at the beginning of its formation was introduced as a bloc of emerging world powers and in the atmosphere after the financial crisis of 2008, was considered one of the manifestations of the post-American world and the rise of non-Western powers, will create new equations in international Geo-economic and Geo-political competitions. It is an important event. The possible membership of the


China and Pakistan have deep relations. China never wants to lose her this obedient friend. China has invested heavily in Pakistan. China never wants a war to break down in Pakistan.


If Allah is willing, China's dreams of beneficial development of Pakistan will be destroyed one by one, and this will happen because Pakistan has shattered the dreams of Afghanistan and every Afghan. Afghan children wished to have a better life; to eat well, dress well, drink well, sleep well, have good fun, get a good education, have a good job... and have good and healthy competition both at home and at the national and international levels; however, Pakistan, according to its evil plans, destroyed all the dreams of our Afghans, as now we don't have food, we don't have enough water (as there is no particular plan for its control), we are hungry, our education is not education (dogs are limping in schools), our health is weak (people are standing disrespectfully in Torkham and Spin Boldak ports) and in general our life is multiplied by zero. We do not have much hope for the future. Allah knows what is happening and what will happen, but Afghans are facing a bad situation. There are disappointments. There are no guardians. They are no hopes. Their life is full of suffering... and who did all this? Pakistan is the only one that has done this to us and is still creating problems for the Afghan homeland. The biggest obstacle to our development is Pakistan, and all the terror acts in the region are because of Pakistan...


Although I don't like killing and injuring humans and harming humans in general, I always pray that God will never give me the ability to harm another person. Still, when someone harms others, the affected one must defend himself. China and China's spy in the region (Pakistan) are a cancer for the region. From the reports of the Salam Times and other media outlets, it seems China is trying to bring several countries, including Afghanistan, under its economic control. In other words, unlike Russia and the United States, which invaded Afghanistan and killed Afghans, China is trying to economically put pressure on the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and many other countries in the region. This way, they will achieve their goals, which is the economic empire of the region. An effective way to prevent China's influence is to support the freedom fighters of Balochistan to stop China's evil projects in the region. Pakistan and Pakistani generals are implementers of China's projects and enemies of Afghanistan's peace and stability. This way, China's progress will be prevented, and the roots of Pakistani generals' evil and espionage will be destroyed.


Pakistani rulers betrayed their motherland very severely. He who fired at his nation has not seen a good day. Pakistani colonels took weapons after their people and did not leave their neighbors calm. Pakistan was once a peaceful country, but due to the bad luck of Pakistanis, Pakistan remained under the rule of the army all its life, and the military always played the role of a mercenary in the region. It has the name of the Republic of Pakistan, but the Marshal Law system has been running in it all its life. The real meaning of Pakistan is Punjab. If you were a Punjabi, you would spend time in Pakistan, and if you were a Pashtun or a Baloch, you would either be killed as a terrorist or by another name. The Chinese tried hard to do some fundamental work in the region against the West, especially in Pakistan. A good example is investing in Gwadar in Pakistan against Dubai, the Western trade center in Asia, but the Chinese did not know what would happen. China tried hard to make something out of Gwadar but did not understand what the Pakistani authorities did with the Baloch!? I have heard that when the Baloch people have food for breakfast, they are concerned about how to find food for their dinner, while the Punjabis have looted all the natural reserves. On the other hand, what did the Pakistani authorities do to the Pashtuns? When a country is ruled by people who take away the rights of others, I don't think that country can remain sound. It will inevitably deteriorate. If t


The years long close friendship between Pakistan and China are not for God's sake, but for a specific purpose, and this goal is undoubtedly clear and obvious. In addition to its influence in Pakistan, China wants to place its secret military presence in this country for the superpowers. Recently, the Balochs realized to voice to avoid the Gawadar port form getting looted.