On May 6, 2015, the nationalist parties in Balochistan parliament issued a call for a shutter-down strike over the changes in Gwadar-Kashgar route.
As a result, a comprehensive strike was observed all over Balochistan, including Gwadar. The nationalist parties thanked the masses for responding to the call and said that they reject the changes in the route.
In the past, nationalist parties have vehemently debated the proposed changes in the route and rejected it because it bypasses the original route which included many parts of Balochistan. The parties have said that if the federal government refuses to address these grievances, they will expand the scope of their protests.
The key grievance over the change in route is that the original route passed through many parts of upper and central Balochistan, catering to both the Pashtun and Baloch areas in the province. Originally, the route was to pass through Quetta, Kalat, Besma, Panjgur, Hoshab, Turbat and Gwadar.
In the new route being pursued by the federal government, the route goes through mainly through Punjab and Sindh, and then turns towards Balochistan near the coast, taking a coastal route all the way to Gwadar. The original plan is currently being dubbed as the ‘Western Corridor’ while the new plan has been called ‘Eastern Corridor.’
The federal government vows that once the Eastern Corridor is operational, it will also start working on the Western Corridor. The government’s stance is that the Eastern Corridor already has most of the infrastructure in place in order to make the route functional as soon as possible. But both Balochistan and KPK have alleged that the route changes are meant to benefit Punjab and Sindh.