How safe is Balochistan? How can Gwadar ever reach its potential?

One of the questions that arises in relation to Gwadar focuses on the subject of safety. We are aware that Balochistan has experienced issues in this respect but we would urge anyone with concerns to separate Gwadar from its host province.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) organisation is aware of the wider situation and in this article we will outline the steps they have taken to offer potential Gwadar investors peace of mind in this respect.

Why should I consider Gwadar as a separate entity?

Firstly, it is important to consider that Balochistan is a vast territory: It is the largest of the four provinces in Pakistan and covers a huge area that approaches some 350,000 square kilometres. Warnings about safety are there, particularly in the biggest city of Quetta, but there are reasons why Gwadar should be considered on its own merits.

Firstly, there is its isolated location on the very south western tip of Balochistan and furthermore, there have been significant steps to address any questions. The Pakistan and Chinese governments recognise the importance of Gwadar and the area has been given special preference in regards to safety.

What steps have been taken to ensure safety in Gwadar?

Plans to address security in Gwadar have been considered for some time but they were first put into action back in 2014. At that point in the city’s history, hundreds of rebels gave up their arms as the Pakistan government set up the first task force in the region.

Further action was taken in 2016 when China realised the potential for their own naval force to assist. As we know, Gwadar is vital to China’s future plans and the country forms an axis with the Pakistanis on security.

As for Pakistan themselves, they continued to step up their own security plans and in 2017, the country took measures to cope with the increase in maritime activity in the port. Pakistan’s TF-88 task force was upgraded while personnel were also employed on land.

If we fast forward to the present day, Gwadar is protected by 15,000 land based troops along with those original naval forces. This is a strong set of measures and one that has overseen initial operations in the city. These operations started with test cargoes and to date they have all passed off without incident.

While nothing can ever be guaranteed to the perfect, 100% level, it’s clear that the question of safety in Gwadar has been taken seriously and effective steps have been taken by both China and Pakistan.

To answer the original question, yes – it would be wrong to ignore concerns in Quetta and other, specific places in Balochistan but the position in Gwadar should be considered in complete isolation. It’s remote location, together with its economic importance to China in particular means that security questions are tackled with greater collaboration with forces outside of Pakistan. As a result, security should not stand in the way of Gwadar reaching its full potential.

Attack on Gwadar Hotel

In May 2019, four terrorists attacked a hotel in Gwadar. The incident was dealt with quickly and effectively by the large contingency of security forces present at the time. Unfortunately, there were some casualties reported in this senseless attack.

This was a failed attack and Gwadar security forces once again proved their resilience and capability in dealing with such situations. This further consolidates the security and safety of Gwadar –  this incident demonstrates the professionalism and determination to make Gwadar secure and peaceful. We can only thank the security forces for upholding the safety of Gwadar and ensuring any form of terrorism ultimately fails.
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