Western & Indian Anti-Gwadar Propaganda & Reality
CPEC is a 3,000-km corridor from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar in Pakistan on the Arabian Sea.
It slices through the Himalayas, plains and deserts to reach the ancient fishing port Gwadar.
Huge infrastructure projects, including road and railway networks as well as power plants, are being built along the way. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the corridor is estimated at USD 62 billion today.
CPEC is part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, a massive regional trade and diplomatic venture that covers both land and maritime routes linking China to the rest of Asia and Europe.
Gwadar is the hub of CPEC & One Belt One Road and a gateway to the oil rich Middle East, Central and South Asia.
Pakistan’s coast is about 990 km long, extending from the Indian border in the east to the Iranian border in the west.
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Pakistan is about 240,000 square km, with an additional continental shelf area of about 50,000 square km.
At any given time, the Gwadar port can berth two or three large ships with a capacity of 50,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage).
By 2045, the port will be able to berth 150 ships and cargo up to 400 million tonnes, and will have multiple logistics services, a huge storage facility and a nine-square kilometre industrial free trade zone (GPFZ).
Phase 1 of the GPFZ will include a pipe plant, a cold storage and fish processing area, an e-bike factory and display centres for Chinese goods.
The entire zone will be fully operational in 7-8 years and house over 400 companies and Pakistani-Chinese joint ventures.
Recently a number of articles have been published in the media against the CPEC and Gwadar fisher-folk community.
The propaganda highlights “Chinese fishing trawlers swamp Arabian Sea” and some minor events of “Baloch fishermen protest against fishing rights to China in the Arabian Sea near Gwadar port in Balochistan for the purpose of deep-sea fishing”.
Media reports in western and Indian media propagated the stories that the fisher-folk community in Pakistan fear that Chinese companies are slowly taking over Pakistan’s fishing sector posing a threat to the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen in the province.
The western and Indian backed propaganda goes on and spreads rumours in the fisher-folk community that Chinese catch fishes, which they then process and sell to international markets, thereby depriving local fishermen of their livelihoods.
Khudad Wajo, President of the Gwadar Fishermen Alliance, says that China is preparing to capture Pakistani waters while the Fisher-folk Forum’s Shah claims the permit has already been given to Chinese trawlers.
The reality is totally different. Pakistan has signed several cooperation agreements with Chinese companies for the development of the Gwadar port & fisher-folk community.
The important point of cooperation is that the fishermen will be provided with technology, nets, boats and engines for them to go out into the sea.
In 20 years, there will be two million people employed in Gwadar, both from Gwadar and elsewhere in Pakistan and including 20,000 Chinese.
Consequently, the fish will be bought from the fisher-folk at market rates and eliminate the middlemen so they make maximum profits.
With advanced technology, bigger boats, modern fishing tools, processing factories and skills training programs in Gwadar more and more fisher-folk will have a chance to catch fish.
Consul General Li Bijian said that Pakistan has resources when it comes to fisheries and Chinese investors are very much interested in investing in the fishing sector in Pakistan.
The local fishermen need to increase their fishing capacity to help export the seafood and locals need to go into the deep sea for fishing as “fishing is not profitable” on seashores.
At least 20 lakh people are connected to the fishing business in Gwadar. Their livelihood depends on day-to-day fishing.
The fisher-folk’s livelihood will not be affected once the factories are set up at the port. Skills development has been in the mind of the port authorities in the second phase of its construction.
Chinese authorities have been building a vocational training institute in Gwadar for over two years which is ready for inauguration in December 2021.
The project was being built under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the port city.
The project is aimed at creating a state-of-the-art vocational and technical training institute in Gwadar.
“The project will enhance the skills of the local population of Gwadar to participate in the growth of the Port City and bring investment, business and tourism to the area.
The Institute would help in fulfilling maritime skilled manpower requirements of the Gwadar Port after the development of industrial projects including the Gwadar Port Free Zone, Export Processing Zone and other industrial and port-related projects.
There are 17 classrooms there which we plan to renovate and within two months begin the courses in motor winding, crane and fork-lifter maintenance, welding and Chinese language,”In addition, the China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital worth 100 million dollar, several schools and carpet roads have already been completed.
The fisher-folk already earn at least four times more than they could prospectively earn as skilled labourers.
In a week, the fisher-folk can make from PKR 20,000 (USD 188) to PKR 50,000 (USD 471).
The wages of an unskilled worker at the port are not more than PKR 20,000 a month, and those of skilled labour, somewhere between PKR 28,000 (USD 264) to PKR 50,000 a month.
Pakistan Fisher-folk need to realize the importance of CPEC & Gwadar Port projects and need to actively participate in the development of advanced technology fishing at Gwadar port and nearby deep-sea waters. Fisher-folk community should be aware of Indian & western propaganda.
They have a golden opportunity to take advantage of advanced technology, bigger boats, learning advanced skills and language for prosperity and a better future for themselves and future generations.