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The bitter truth about Gawader

Written by The Frontier Post

Khaleeq Nazar Kiani
Corruption in Balochistan may be reached to that level where general people are not ready to accept it anymore and openly displaying their discontent, anger in a very unique way. A few days back residents of Gawader started a contribution campaign for the Minister of fisheries Balochistan. It was a gentle and unique way of protest exposing the rampant corruption of the ruling elite class.
Gawader KO Haq Do (Give the right to Gawader) was an unprecedented three weeks long agitation movement in the history of Gawader. To keep aside the political affiliation almost every family of Gawader not only supported but actively participated in it. It should be a warning sign for the rulers who often give sermons on the benefit of CPEC for Balochistan. To date, CPEC may be a game-changer or beneficial for Pakistan but not so for Balochistan. The residents of CPEC’s center of gravity Gawader are still struggling to save their only big source of livelihood, the fish catching which is under threat due to the trawler mafia. Modern employment opportunities are still a dream for them.
Professional investors a-re very smart and always do their risk management bef-ore taking any decision of investment. They analyze the situation for a good ret-urn on their investment. G-wadar Free Zone fails to at-tract investors despite good incentives this is what was told by the Board of investment to the Prime Minister. But surely he may have not been informed about the poor infrastructure, lack of sustainable power and water supply, most importantly the poor law and order situation despite a dedicated task force.
Gawader port was inaugurated in 2007 but still struggling to find business despite the change of port operator and billions of dollars borrowed money investment. Now the question on the viability of Gawader as a deep seaport is pertinent and valid. In the current year Federal PSDP a project is reflected under the title “Studies on Making Gwadar Port More Competitive (SB)” with an allocated amount of 295 million. This study should have been part of the feasibility of Gawader port or have been done before a decision to accept the offer of China for its construction in 1999. Still expending billions without knowing its future.
In 1994 Government floated a policy package to develop the Gwadar deep seaport on a BOT basis but no response was received from any foreign investors. Had any decision-maker thought about the lackluster response of the investors at that time?
There are doubts about the full function of the port with its maximum capacity in the near future. Maybe in the next few years, a pip-eline from Rikodiq to transport slurry or a pipeline to transport petroleum products generate some business but that will not be enough. Saudi Arabia is also not interested to build an oil refinery at Gwadar which was planned in 2017.
The argument of the Babus in Islamabad is that the Chinese must have done their homework before investing. Surly China does but for the next 50 or 100 years not as per the expectation of Pakistan. The first priority of China is to develop its western region which has 1/3 of the country’s population and 70% land but is much poor and underdeveloped than its eastern region. All the development and wealth is concentrated in its eastern region. China and Pakistan have similarities in the sense that on both sides, the western regions are poor and have no developed infrastructure. China is carrying out a big infrastructure development program in the western region and announced incentives by reducing the tax from 25% to 15% for the local and foreign investors to establish their businesses there. Once western China is fully developed then transport linkages will be developed with Gwader port and this is not going to happen in 10 to 20 years. It will take a generation or more.
However, the speculative real estate business is thriving and every big gun in the country has taken benefit from it. The real estate business in the Gwader is like a Ponzi scheme that gives the dividend to its initial investors and ruins the last one.

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The Frontier Post

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