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GWADAR: The Gwadar Fishermen Alliance has announced that it will resume its protest from March 1 to protect centuries-old livelihood of local fishermen if the government makes no decision in this regard by then.

Speaking at a press conference, the alliance leaders Khuda-i-Dad Wajo, Khuda Bakhsh and Ali Akbar Rais said for the development of Pakistan, the local fishermen had surrendered ownership of lands in their ancestral area Mullah Band. But after the government embarked on construction of Eastbay Expressway, they expressed their concern that it would block their access to the sea before officials of the federal and provincial governments. “Even Prime Minister Imran Khan is aware of our grievances and demands,” they said.

“Then we resorted to protest but later called it off on the assurance of the district administration and Gwadar port officials,” the alliance leaders said. “During the last few months we have met a federal minister, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani, Senators and the commander of Southern Command. The representatives of the federal and the provincial government told us that they would convey our concerns to the authorities concerned,” they said.

“We were told that additional funds would be approved for the construction of a new jetty and we have been waiting for the final decision by the Planning and Development Commission,” the representatives of the fishermen community said.

They said that they had decided to wait till February 28 and, if nothing was done to meet their demand by then, they would resume their protest from March 1.

They said that their demands included the establishment of a passage at Baloch Ward to give the fishermen access to the sea, construction of a modern auction hall and scholarships for fishermen’s children as well as provision of gas, electricity and water in their areas.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019