Baluchistan: Chinese stakeholders investing in Baluchistan has grown steadily over the past two decades, however, they are destroying the environment and marine life, besides denying jobs to locals.

On September 7, Aslam Bhootani, a lawmaker from Balochistan, decried "ongoing exploitation" by the Chinese companies working on various power projects in Balochistan, reported The HK Post.

Bhootani charged that the Chinese companies are playing havoc in the area," he affirmed, asking the government to "rein in the companies."

Bhootani also asserted that it seemed those companies considered themselves not answerable to anyone as they had been operating under the protection of the Pakistani Army, reported The HK Post.

According to him, the Chinese companies, which had set up a coal plant at Lasbela, were destroying the marine life and ending the livelihoods of local fishermen.

The Pakistani army and the central government are controlling the region of Balochistan with an iron fist and exploiting its precious resources.

Now, the area is open to China for exploitation with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) deal and ongoing projects.

The acquisition of Gwadar port, exclusion of Baloch firms and labour from Gwadar and associated CPEC projects, exclusion of native fishermen and destruction of natural ambience have intensified pre-existing feelings of regionalism in Baluchistan, with Baloch nationalist forces either wholly rejecting the project or voicing for a greater share in them, reported The HK Post.

The Chinese projects are apparently causing the dislocation of Balochi people from their settlements. For instance, fishermen living in some of the oldest neighbourhoods of Gwadar for centuries are now rehabilitated to the north of Gwadar, Noken Mullah Band. Many view this as a plan to coerce locals to leave the area.

In July 2022, Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, the chief of the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) in a video message urged China to stop CPEC projects in Balochistan as it has forcibly displaced lakhs of indigenous people and destroyed their properties.

He stated, "I, on behalf of the Baloch nation, want to tell China that you should avoid being a partner of our occupier (Pakistan)...As you have gone through a similar movement and revolutionary process, I want to tell the communist party, in Balochistan, in the name of CPEC you are expelling the Baloch nation, you are banishing Baloch from their native land, you are destroying the properties of the Baloch nation".

Locals accuse Beijing of stealing Balochistan's mineral resources. Saindak copper-gold mine, located near Saindak in Chagai district, has been cleared for a lease running till 2035, reported The HK Post.

On the other hand, the Chinese company, MCC Resources Development Company has been given the task of mining.

Explaining the sorry situation, Senator Akram Baloch said that to appease China, Pakistan is giving contracts to Beijing without taking the Baloch people into confidence.

Despite Chinese investments, Baluchistan remains extremely poor with no proper health facilities, education, housing, or even clean drinking water.