QUETTA: Fishermen affected by the construction of Eastbay Expressway have asked the government to allow them access to the Arabian Sea for fishing.

The fishermen, who have been protesting for the past one week, said they would not compromise on their rights.

Several political parties, including the Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A), BNP-Mengal, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, and civil society organisations were supporting the fishermen.

Secretary General of Human Rights wing of the BNP-A Saeed Faiz led a protest rally in Gwadar in support of the fishermen. BNP-A’s workers and supporters marched on main roads and streets of the port town carrying placards and banners inscribed with the fishermen’s demands. They chanted slogans in favour of their demands.

Workers and supporters of other political parties also participated in the rally.

Saeed Faiz, Maulana Hidayatullah, Faiz Nagri, Mola Bakhsh Mujahid, Nabi Bakhsh Babar, Mohammad Bakhsh Zamrani and others criticised the government for not paying attention to the fishermen’s demands.

They said they were not against development, but wanted protection of their rights and centuries-old livelihood of local fishermen as with the construction of Eastbay Expressway the route up to sea had been blocked for fishing.

They said that according to the national and international law it was necessary to protect the livelihood of local people.

They said the government had promised to remove the fishermen’s reservations, but so far it took no step in this regard.

They demanded that at least three points should be constructed at Eastbay Expressway for excess of fishermen up to the Arabian Sea.

Other demands of the fishermen include that the government should take steps for giving higher education to the children of fishermen and set up centres for vocational training in Gwadar.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2018

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