.

1- GWADAR
2-
AUTO INDUSTRY
3-
EXPORT GROWTH: A CRITICAL LOOK

 

GWADAR

 

A page from the history

.

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Oct 20 - 26, 2003
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently, Gwadar Port Authority and Gwadar Development Authority, are being instituted by the government to lookafter third port and the second port city of the country. Like Karachi Port and Port Qasim, the forthcoming port is also to have a federally administered status, it is learnt.

The economic experts are pinning great significance on this newly developed port city having potentials to change the economic fate of the province of Balochistan as well as the country as a whole due to its strategic significance.

This prestigeous project of port city before coming into being, had to pass through some interesting developments which were revealed by a signed letter written to the federal government by late Haji Mohammad Iqbal Baloch in 1950.

Gwadar originally belong to Pakistan geographically as well as historically was under administration of Oman.

The efforts made by Haji Iqbal Baloch in drawing the attention of the then authorities towards the state of affairs in Gwadar and to bring it back to the original status of its administration under Pakistan government are revealed in that letter possed by his son Ahmed Baloch running his business in Karachi.

Haji Iqbal Baloch had started his business from Gwadar at a small scale. The honest and untiring efforts helped him not only to be an author of a success story in business but his services were acknowledge by the people of Karachi as well by honouring him as "City Father" consecutively for two years in 1957-58.

President Ayub Khan in recognition of his services awarded him "Tamgha-i-Khidmat in 1967.

Following is the story of Gwadar narrated by Haji Iqbal Baloch in his letter to the federal government in 1950:

Confronted by numerous urgent problems demanding immediate and undivided attention that arose in the wake of partition, Pakistan has so far paid little or no heed to several other issues which though comparatively less important have nevertheless to be tacked soon.

One such problem relates to the future of Gwadar, a territory in the possession of the Arab Sultan of Muscat and Oman situated on the Mekran Coast in South Balochistan.

Both from the point of view of its geographical position and historical and cultural back ground, Gwadar is an integral and inseparable part of the state of Mekran.

 

 

GATE OF WIND

The word Gwadar is a combination of two balochi words "Guad" and "Dar" meaning the "Gate of Wind". It situated between the Mekran ports of Pasni and Jiwani, the terrority has no defined boundaries. The question of its boundaries had been a bone of contention between the Ruler of Kalat State and the Sultan of Muscat long before the partition of the Indian sub-continent. But inspite of apparent efforts to find solution, the question remaind unsolved. Roughly the boundaries extend in the north to an area of about 8 to 10 miles and ends near a place called Phuleri, having a total population of approximately 14,000. Gwadar comprises a sea town of that name, two other minor ports and number of small villages scattered over an area called Nagore.

EXAMPLE

The Southern part of Gwadar is a T-shaped strip of land about five miles long and half to one mile wide projecting from the main coast in the North into the Arabian Sea and ending in the south with a six to seven hundred feet high reef called "Koh-e-batail". The reef which is about 9 miles in length and half to one mile in width is responsible for the formation of the coast and west bays. The top of the reef contains a catchment area with an anicient masonary dam supposed to have been constructed by the Portugese. The dam is a fine example of ancient engineering and workmanship. The huge blocks of stone used in it's construction and nicely carved in rectangular shape with dovetail arrangements to hold them firmly. There is no evidence of cement or some other material having been used in its construction.

 

 

NATURAL SEA PORT

The town of Gwadar with a total population of about 8,000, is a natural sea port situated on the east bank of east bay on a sandy but hard soil dotted by tall date-palm trees which present a picturesque sitght. Most of the buildings are made of mud only. Wells dug in the norrowest bolt of the projected strip provide the only source of water supply to the town, which has a temperate climate and is considered one of the healthiest spots among the coastal towns of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Muscat and Oman. The indigenus produce is fish, which is famous both for its quality and variety and constitutes the main occupation of its habitants. After being salted and dried, the fish is exported mostly to Colombo and partly to Hong Kong.

FISHING VILLAGES

The other minor ports of Gwadar territory are small fishing villages called Sur and Pishukan having a population of about 1500 and 2500 respectively. While the former is situated on the mouth of the east bay about 15 miles from the town of Gwadar territory, the latter is in the west bay at a distance of 25 miles by land. The rest of the area called Nagore, consists of small scattered villages.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Gwadar was always a part of Mekran. About a century ago the then ruler of Mekran alloted one of the Arab Sheikhs to take refuge in the town because he was a holy man Seyed, who are held in great esteem and respect by Muslims. Since it had remained in possession of the Sultans of Muscat and Oman who until recently were paying a nominal royalty to the Ruler of Mekran. In the later years, the Arabs are said to have extended their hold with gradual encroachments occupying some of the adjoining territory, which was lying waste and unprotected.

 

 

CULTURAL UNITY

The bulk of the population of Gwadar is of pure Baloch origin and belong to the same stock as those living in the hiterland of Mekran. They speak balochi language and call themselves balochi. Their customs and habits as well as their mode of living are the same as these of the people of Balochistan. There are no natural barriers restricting intercourse between Gwadar and Mekran. The economic and social life of the former is inseparably linked with that of the latter. The people of Gwadar have own land and other property on the other side of the border and have closest relationship with the people of Mekran.

ADMINISTRATION

The system of administration in Gwadar is not the worst and the most antiquated type. There is hardly any organization for maintenance of law and order. A wali or governor appointed by the Sultan rules the place with iron hand and exercises absolute civil and criminal powers. He is assisted in the performance of his duties by a Qazi and about 30 Bedouins called "Askaris" or policemen. Disputes between individuals are settled orally and in the arbitrary manner by the Wali who often passes sentences of flogging and confinement to dungeon.

BRITISH AGENCY

There is a British Agency in Gwadar staffed by an agent working directly under the British Consul at Muscat. His main functins are to report events in Gwadar and the adjoinining areas and also to look after the interests of the British subjects in that place. He also tries civil and crimnal cases involving British subjects residing there.

GENERAL BACKWARDNESS

Gwadar lacks all modern amenities such as sanitation and medical aid.

Educational facilities are completely non-existant. About a year or so ago, a primary school housed in a single room and building was opened and is most inadequate to meet the local requirements.

SOURCE OF REVENUES

The only source of revenue of Gwadar is the customs duty charged on goods imported via sea or land. In pre-war years, the revenue from the customs was roughly Rs30,000 but it has now arisen upto Rs5 lakh. This abnormal increase in attributable not to any increase in the rates of duty but to the fact that duty is charged on the market value of the imported goods. The absence of any regulated and controlled market has led to terrible amount of black marketing and smuggling. In 1947, the cost of one bag of broken rice sold upto Rs200 while coarse cloth, which was very much in demand in Kalat, Persian Mekran and parts of Balochistan was sold at Rs4 per yard.

SMUGGLING

Since the outbreak of the last world war all essential commodities were supplied on quota basis by the government of India to the various Arab ports in the Persian Gulf. Due to scarcity of foodstuffs and other essential articles in the adjoining countries of Persian Gulf, most of the imported commodities imported for local consumption were smuggled into other countries yielding huge profits to the smugglers.

Following the partition of the India-Pakistan sub-continent, however, the quota system was discontinued through the import of the Indian cotton piece goods continued as before. There was an acute shortage of food in Persian Gulf ports. Tempted by the desire to reap high profits, merchants of Gwadar, which has always served as a distributing center for smuggled goods, offered tempting prices for these articles to traders in Mekran.

 

 

Consequently large quantities of food grains supplied by the government of Pakistan to Mekran started pouring into Gwadar. Similarly rice from Karachi continued to be smuggled in large quantities in fishing boats.

This illegal trade is not confined to foodgrains only but also extends to a number of other commodities. Articles, such as cloth, sugar, gold, matches and cigarettes imported into Gwadar and charged at a lower rate of duty are smuggled into Pakistan territory via Mekran as well as Karachi, thus depriving Pakistan government of a considerable amount of customs revenue. In view of unrestricted inercourse between Gwadar and the bordering areas both by sea and land and in the absence of any check on the boundaries, it is practically impossible to put an end to this illegal business.

In view of the facts mentioned above and in consideration of vital strategic position occupied by Gwadar, the Government of Pakistan would be well advised to give its closest attention to this problem and take immediate steps to restore Gwadar to Mekran to which it rightfully belongs.