Baluchistan: Gwadar Rights Movement leader Maulana Hidayatur Rehman has issued a warning to Chinese nationals to leave the Gwadar port area, Al Arabiya Post reported citing The Maritime Executive.

Issuing a warning to Chinese nationals living in Gwadar, Rehman said if the government 'ignores' their peaceful protests, the people have a right to 'pick up and use weapons' to protect their rights.

As per the news report, Chinese nationals have been used as a 'negotiating chip' by protesters in Balochistan to ensure that their demands are addressed. Maulana Hidayat Rehman's recent call to leave Gwadar was for the less than 500 Chinese residing there, Al Arabiya Post reported citing The Asian Lite International.

Balochistan has been facing problems due to Chinese presence and 'utter neglect' by the Pakistani government. The lack of development and economic growth fuelled by 'Chinese colonialism' in the Gwadar port has created a "ground swell of anti-China feeling", resulting in locals recently asking Chinese nationals there to leave within a week's time, the Al Arabiya Post reported.

Currently, the biggest challenge faced by Pakistan is ensuring that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) does not collapse as a keystone of CPEC under construction in Gwadar port in Balochistan, as per the news report.

Protest on the expansion of Gwadar port, which is an important asset for China's Belt and Road Initiative continues to escalate, potentially affecting the economic ties between China and Pakistan, Al Arabiya Post reported citing the Maritime Executive.

Last year, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman-led similar protests lasted for more than thirty-two days. He called on the government to address their issues, which the protesters now have not resolved. As per the news report, locals in Balochistan are being treated as 'aliens' while Chinese citizens earn good salaries, denying local employment.

According to reports, during the protests in the third week of December, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman warned Chinese nationals to leave Gwadar within a week. The protests that have been going on for about two months involve blocking Gwadar's port entrance and the Gwadar East Bay Expressway, a key artery connecting the port with Pakistan's main highway network.

Protesters have sought a reduction of security checkpoints in Gwadar and an end to deep-sea trawling. They have also called on the government to ease curbs on informal border trading with Iran, according to the Al Arabiya Post.

Chinese nationals have been the target of terror attacks in Pakistan since 2021.