Thousands of men and women have been staging protests for the last one month in Gwadar to claim their basic rights. Topping the list of their demands has been their right to earn their livelihood. In an ultra-conservative Baloch culture when women come out of their homes to protest for their rights, it signals appalling mismanagement. Mercifully, the government acceded to meet their demands, as announced by Maulana Hidayatur Rehman who led the protests: “Our all demands have been accepted and official notifications have been issued in this regard. An agreement has been signed with the government about our demands.” To say the least, such an unpleasant situation lasting for 31 days should not have arisen in the first place. Locals need to be guided on how the CPEC would prove to be a harbinger of prosperity not only for the Gwadar city. Gwadar, the deep seaport, a gift of nature to this country was supposed to develop into an economic game-changer. Instead, it lacks even the lifesaving requirement of clean drinking water for its people. The negligence is unparalleled. Gwadar had been a seaside township inhabiting local fishermen for years until the CPEC was conceived and both Pakistan and China hoped to gain huge economic benefits in their mutual interests. According to the $60billion CPEC project, China is supposed to develop the necessary road network from Gwadar to Xinjiang–China’s point of entry, besides setting up energy and telecommunication projects. Presently, China’s imports from the Gulf States pass through the Strait of Malaka, covering 16000 Kms. Same cargo, when transported by road from Gwadar to China’s customs post of Xinjiang province will only cover 4000 Kms, reducing the transportation cost tremendously. In return, Pakistan would get a custom levy on every goods container; and innumerable towns and motels would spring up along the new route. Will the CPEC dream materialise to prove a game-changer, thus improving the living conditions of the deprived people of Baluchistan, only the superpower knows better? The mighty power has its own geopolitical interests in the region despite its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of the longest war in history. However, we heard for decades how Baluchistan floats over the mineral wealth. But despite the wealth, the people of the province have remained more impoverished than the people of other provinces. The dilemma is that quite a few projects were planned in this province with much aplomb but none of them saw the proverbial light of the day. Consider Reko Dic, for instance. Instead of earning millions were the project allowed to proceed unhindered, we lost hundreds of millions in fines imposed by an international court for abrogating the contract with an Australian-Chile joint venture. Former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry who, in his great wisdom and foresight, rescinded the contract for being non-transparent must now be living a life of luxury in retirement. Gwadar was supposed to become the hub of economic activity, which, in turn, would create thousands of job opportunities for the people of the province. Alas, people of that town have been thirsting for potable water and have lost whatever source of livelihood they had, fishing by boats. This obviously causes resentment between the local population of Gwadar and the Chinese staff working on the port. The locals feel their rights have been usurped by the foreigners. In fact, the locals need to be guided on how the CPEC would prove to be a harbinger of prosperity not only for the Gwadar city, but also for the entire province which has hitherto remained underdeveloped. When the protests raged in Gwadar for lack of basic necessities of life, the information minister warned that gas reserves in the country were shrinking fast and we will soon face a shortage of gas supply. And the shortage will prolong for years. We seem to move from one crisis to another. Wasn’t an agreement of gas supply from Iran to Pakistan signed between two countries in 1995? Iran completed its section of pipeline in 2011. Iran even offered to provide $500 million to help construct a gas pipeline on our side of the Iran-Pakistan boundary line in Baluchistan. Had that project been allowed to be complete, the nation wouldn’t have to hear the bad news of going without gas in the near future. At the national level, the political leaders at the helm are fond of announcing huge projects but, unfortunately, not many projects reach their logical end. The writer is a Lahore-based columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.