Prime Minister Imran Khan assures Gwadar demonstrator of action against illegal fishing

ISLAMABAD / QUETTA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that demands of the coastal community of Gwadar were ‘very legitimate’ and announced that he would take up the matter with Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo.

The intervention by Prime Min­ister Khan came nearly a month after the Gwadar fishermen took to the streets to press the govt. for his or her dem­ands including halt to illegal fishing.

Mr Khan vowed to require ‘strong’ action against illegal fishing by trawlers. “I have taken notice of the very legitimate demands of hardworking fishermen of Gwa­dar. are taking strong action against illegal fishing by trawlers and can speak to CM Balochistan,” the premier tweeted.

While both CM Bizenjo and leader of the Gwadar protest movement Maulana Hidayatur Rehman hailed the PM’s tweet, the latter found out that the 000 issue was fulfillment of promises.

A senator belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), meanwhile, told the state-run television station that some demands of the local fishermen were unacceptable. “If a number of these demands are met, the govt. will must provide such facilities to all or any people of the country,” Senator Abdul Qadir, who hails from Balochistan, said.

Fishermen in large numbers together with women and kids are protesting on the shores of Gwadar for past 28 days to press the relevant authorities for elimination of illegal fishing by trawlers, removal of Gwadar Development Authority director general further as Pasni’s deputy commissioners and assistant commissioner, cross-border trade with Iran, provision of unpolluted potable, closure of wine shops, jobs, job quota for disabled and free 300 units of electricity.

Led by Maulana Hidayatur Rehman, Balochistan gen­­eral secretary of the Ja­­m­a­at-i-Islami, the protesters have vowed to continue their protest till the achievement of their ‘rights’. They blocked roads and other places by holding rallies and staging a sit-in.

Adviser to the CM on Home and Tribal Affairs Mir Ziaullah Langau told a PTV show that the Balochistan government had already fulfilled most of their 19 demands and vowed to require stern action against what he called “illegal trawlers mafia”.

Regarding one in all the three remaining complaints, the CM’s aide said Maulana Rehman had recently admitted during a gathering that illegal fishing by trawlers had ‘declined’ though at the identical time he feared a resurge within the activity if the protesters ended their sit-in.

About their boats and vehicles that had been confiscated under the Customs Act, the adviser said he had informed the protesters that it absolutely was an act of the national and was “out of the domain of Balochistan government”.

Speaking to Dawn, PTI Senator Abdul Qadir said a number of their demands were ‘unacceptable’. “If a number of these demands are met, the govt will need to provide such facilities to all or any people of the country. as an example, fishermen are demanding free 300 units of electricity, cross-border trade with Iran and use of non-custom duty paid cars,” he said before adding that individuals of Gwadar already enjoyed those facilities which were unavailable to those residing in other parts of Balochistan.

The senator said some ‘anti-state’ elements were provoking the fisherman against the govt so as to form unrest within the port city.

The Gwadar rights movement leader also lauded the tweet of PM Khan saying: “We don't seem to be stubborn and believe solution of the issues” though the prime minister took notice of the stress after their protest entered 28th day. He said the protest would continue because the people awaited practical steps to fulfill all the stress, which were pretty much legitimate.

He said the PM didn't speak about another important issues including opening of border, power and water issues and return of the confiscated boats and vehicles.

Despite official notifications issued by the provincial government, no step had been taken to meet those promises, he said. “We want implementation as our people are empty their livelihoods because of the restrictions,” he said.

Maulana Rehman had earlier said the protest would continue until the acceptance of two major demands — action against ‘trawler mafia’ and cross-border trade with Iran — out of the 19 demands.

While hailing the peace of mind given by the prime minister, CM Bizenjo said the peace of mind was encouraging. He claimed that the steps demanded by the Gwadar rights movement, which came under the purview of the provincial government, were already being implemented as per its policy.

“Relevant provincial departments are ensuring prevention of illegal fishing and trawling,” he said, adding that unnecessary checkpoints and token system for border trade had already been abolished. He said licences of wine shops had been canceled in Gwadar and funds had been released for urgent solution to the water problems likewise as for the Gwadar old city development plan.

“Some other demands, including electricity, are associated with the centralized,” the CM said, expressing the hope that the stress associated with the federation would even be resolved with better coordination between relevant departments and agencies to curb illegal trawling.

However, to finish the standoff, National Party administrator Mir Jan Mohammad Buledi urged the govt. to instantly hold meaningful negotiations with representatives of the protesters.

Rallies were also staged in other parts of the province to mark ‘Balochistan Solidarity Day’ on the decision of Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq.

Protest demonstrations were staged in Quetta, Dera Murad Jamali, Jaffarabad, Zhob, Sui, Dera Bugti, Bela, Khuzdar, Duki and a number of other other districts to press the provincial and federal authorities for the stress of Gwadar rights movement.

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