In Gwadar

gwadar

Illustration by Winnie T. Frick for Guernica

During a long trip to Pakistan last year, I visited Gwadar, a remote coastal town in the far reaches of Balochistan. This province is huge, underdeveloped and home to a long-running separatist insurgency. Gwadar, a remote outpost of a remote region, is the unlikely centre of geopolitical machinations. As part of a huge programme of economic cooperation, China and Pakistan are seeking to develop Gwadar’s deepwater port into a major shipping destination. This forms one part of the ambitious “China Pakistan Economic Corridor”, which will see a new trade route – stretching thousands of miles – go through the length of Pakistan, connecting China to lucrative Middle Eastern markets.

The area is tightly controlled by the military; I was on a press trip organised by the army. While the trip was designed to show that Gwadar is open for business, it was difficult to escape the disjunction between the language used by officials, and the anxieties of local people, who have a deep-seated – and well-justified – concern about displacement and about the resources of their province being stripped away. I wrote about the trip, and the troubled history of Balochistan, in a long essay for Guernica magazine.

He clicked onto the next slide, a circular chart detailing the military strategy in Balochistan. It was a crudely drawn dial under the title “People Centric Approach,” with a caption below reading, “Love Begets Love.” There were seven points on the dial. The first six all read, “Love,” in green lettering. The final point was in red. It read, “Selective Use Of Force.”

You can read the rest over at Guernica’s website.

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