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Baloch, Sindhi leaders in London protest China-Pak corridor, rights violations

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Balochistan” and “Kadam badhao Modiji hum tumhare saath hain” were among the slogans shouted during the protest at Portland Place opposite the embassy.

They also raised slogans such as “No to CPEC” and “Hai haq humara aazadi” and sought greater support from the world community, ANI news agency reported.

The protest came days after Modi said during an all-parties meeting earlier this month that Pakistan would have to answer for “atrocities” in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He later said during his Independence Day speech that people in Balochistan and PoK had thanked him for raising the issue.

Modi’s remarks have focussed attention on the movement by Baloch nationalist leaders to highlight issues such as rights violations and enforced disappearances.

Among the Baloch and Sindhi groups that called for stopping of activities related to the $46-billion CPEC and preventing gross rights violations were the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), Baloch National Movement (BNM), Baloch Republican Party (BRP), Baloch Human Rights Council-UK (BHRC-UK), Baloch Students’ and Youth Association (BSYA), Baloch Students Organisation and Sindhi Baloch Forum (SBF).

The protest was attended by activists and nationalist leaders who shouted slogans against Pakistan’s security agencies for allegedly committing human rights violations in the name of an economic pact with China.

Baloch activist Hakeem Wadela told ANI: “We are protesting outside the Chinese embassy against the CPEC. Pakistan wants to forcefully impose the CPEC on Balochistan. We are being shown as a minority community...whatever we are doing...it’s for our basic rights.”

The activists said thousands of people had been displaced to facilitate an array of projects under the CPEC without a proper plan for rehabilitating them or providing them compensation.

World Sindhi Congress chairperson Laku Luhana said the CPEC was not an economic project but a “matter of life and death” for the Baloch and Sindhis.

“It is a project of capture on our land and coastal lines. This is not an economic project. It is a matter of life and death for the Baloch and the Sindhis. We will never agree to this project,” he said.

India has opposed the CPEC because a key part of the trade and transit project runs through PoK. Gwadar port in Balochistan is also an important component of the CPEC and Baloch groups have said the local people would not get any benefits from the project.

The Pakistan government has described the CPEC as a “game changer” but Baloch and Sindhi activists have been raising their voices against the project at the international and local levels.

Baloch activist Niaz Baloch told ANI that the protestors wanted to send out the message that the local people will never accept the CPEC.

“China and Pakistan want that Balochistan bows down. They want to give the resources of Balochistan to Punjab and China. We will stand against it,” he said.

Noordin Mengal, another Baloch activist, said the protesters wanted to tell Pakistan and China that they couldn’t do anything without their consent. “They (China and Pakistan) want to snatch, scare and oppress. They are doing it today as well. Till the time they are getting benefited, they do not care about our lives. They do not care about us, nor do they have any sympathy for us,” he said.

The project has been projected as a major boost for the local economy by the Pakistan government but the people of Balochistan said their lives have become more miserable after the work began on the ambitious venture. The area’s ecology has been deeply disturbed, and the region has repeatedly faced natural disasters, they added.
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