In Gwadar, the first thing that struck me was the hills. The color of bone, they line the coast, hacked into straight lines as if hewed by human hands or mining. But it is harsh winds that have chiselled these sharp squares and turrets. In the local Baloch language, Gwadar means “gateway of the wind.” Below the hills, barren scrubland stretches out, a sandy moonscape under white hot sun.
We had just touched down at the airport, a dusty strip of tarmac serving as a runway, fronted by a blocky concrete building with a sniper positioned on top. “This will be an international hub—the biggest airport in Pakistan,” said the army official escorting us.
There were more than twenty of us, a delegation of journalists flown from Islamabad to Gwadar to see the outpost touted by officials as the next Dubai or Shenzhen. We filed into the waiting armored vehicles, discombobulated after a bumpy three-hour ride on a military jet, strapped in like extras in a war movie.