30th November 2021
By Asim Ahmed Khan
In a historic first, hundreds of women took to the streets in Gwadar on Monday, November 29, to protest against illegal fish trawling and excess security check posts in the area, and called for lifting of restrictions on trade with neighbouring Iran.
The protest rally was organized by the Haq Do Tehreek – Give rights to Gwadar, a movement led by Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, General-Secretary of Jamat-e-Islami (JI)’s Balochistan chapter. The movement has been staging demonstrations in Gwadar for the past two weeks.
Female protesters said that the livelihoods of their spouses have been adversely affected by these restrictions, and that they could not stand by and watch anymore.
“Today, we mothers and sisters have taken to the streets of Gwadar because of rampant illegal trawling here. The stoves in our houses have not been lit for the past two days now. The second issue is the disappearance of our brothers, who went missing under mysterious circumstances,” a demonstrator said.
Another protester demanded that the government take action against the drug mafia operating in the area.
“Drugs are being distributed in our area and the government is backing this. Drugs are ruining the future of our children. Alcohol, heroin, marijuana, and crystal are being sold in public. It should be stopped.”
After a march of about three kilometers, the rally turned into a public gathering near the Gwadar Development Authority Park on Marine Drive.
Addressing the gathering, Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman said that women are an important part of our society and there is a need to include them in this struggle. Their involvement has strengthened our movement.
“The historic women’s rally will usher in a new era of rights in Balochistan,” he said. “Authorities in Quetta and Islamabad have seen that Gwadar’s children, women, elders and youth are all determined to achieve their rights through peaceful struggle.”
He added that the ‘rulers’ have no choice now but to listen to Gwadar and solve the problems of Balochistan.
Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo has said that a large number of the people of the coastal belt of Balochistan are involved in the fisheries sector, for the development of which the government is taking significant steps.
“In Gwadar District, orders have been issued to the Fisheries Department, the Pakistan Navy, Maritime Security and other concerned agencies to take stern action against illegal trawlers entering Balochistan, to protect the interests of Balochistan’s fishermen,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said that most of the demands of the participants of the ongoing sit-in in Gwadar have been accepted, which include removal of security check posts, complete ban on the liquor trade in Gwadar City, protection of fishermen and the abolition of token systems.