Gilgit - Baltistan

Sost: Our Trade Town in a mess!!


Sost is a small border town that connects Pakistan with China. Since the construction of Karakuram Highway it has hosted an immigration checkpost, an office of the Customs Department, of  the Government of Pakistan, and many other important offices related to the security organizations. It has emerged as a bustling center of commerce, where people from different parts of the Pakistan, and the world visit either for the purpose of trade or as tourists. Most recently the first Dry Port of Federaly Administrated Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) has been established in Sost to facilitate the growing on-land trade with China. It is also the last town enroute Khunjerab National Park- home to some of the rarest wildlife species of the planet, inlcuding Snow Leoperd and Brown Bears.

Unfortunately no attention has been given to the development of this town. Despite of the fact that billions have been earend by the Customs Department for Government of Pakistan, nothing has been spent on provision of basic facilities, like housing for labors, sanitation, pollution control, garbage management and other basic human needs. Electricty is a major issue in the entire region and hurts trade and commerce in the town, particularly. There is no hospital in the town. The nearest ten-bed hospital is located at an hours drive, in the South at Gulmit.

Ironicaly the NWFP government, forcefully, gathers money from the earnings of the port in the name of “Kohistan Development Fund” but there is no such provision for development of the town where the port and the Custom establishments exist. We urge the authorities to look into the state of affairs of this important border town of the country. If a proportion of the money earned from the Silk Route Dry Port is spent on development of the city within a couple of years all major issues will be resolved.

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  1. This can be a great story in the making. This story can also, potentially, tell us about the hard reality on the ground in modern Hunza. It can become a kaleidoscope to view the sort of uneven development that is happening in Hunza, Nagar and elsewhere.
    From the pulpit of our so called Waeezeen and from the leadership of our institutional establishment we listening that there have been remarkable changes in Hunza. They assert that our society has almost undergone a radical change in the process a new face of Hunza has emerged. However, their uncritical and passionate statements don’t help solve problems of grinding poverty and injustice on the ground. It works rather like a lollypop fed to a child so as to sooth him and let him sleep. Hence, I would argue that the people of Hunza are living under various un-assessed assumptions, about the quality and pace of development taking place over the last couple of decades. Now is the time to undertake a fresh assessment of ground-realities and shatter the myths that tell us about the ‘amazing transformation of Hunza’. While there have been modest achievements in terms of individuals excelling very high in their chosen fields and professions, but the overall development of our society is still a farfetched idea. Hunza is still a very poor region with people living on less than a dollar a day which means that there is a substantial segment of the population that falls under the internationally defined absolute poverty line. This poor population has less accessibility to standard health care, quality primary education and by extension less opportunities for employment and entrepreneurial activity.
    Now, the important point is that the provision of basic human needs such as healthcare, primary education, basic infrastructure such as roads, is the fundamental responsibility of the government. Where government fails or take no interest NGOs step forward to take the gigantic burden of development. But NGOs have limited ambitions and limited objectives and at the same time they are not quiet accountable to the public at large. They implement a certain agenda of their own, set mostly by their foreign donors and benefactors. If NOGs fail no one can question or hold them accountable. They just fail and they fade away. It is the government that stays, and it is the government that must be responsible and ultimately accountable. I bemoan the fact that our government has pathetically failed in addressing the issues of not only Sost but also of other smaller towns in Gojal, and Shinaki regions. It is time now to awaken the political consciousness of our people including those of the Sost to remind the government of its responsibilities. I would further add that Ghuzamfar and his son Saleem, who are mercilessly busy in exploiting the Sost Dry Port to their advantage must stop now. The people of Sost should question and hold these people accountable for the many unfulfilled promises of ‘development’ in Sost. Ghuzamfar stands trail because he is the elected representative and holds political power, his rather roguish son Saleem must be questioned on the grounds that he headed Dry Port Trust for the last one decade. In addition to facilitation of Sino-Pak trade the Dry Port’s mandate included encourage local trade and also contributing in local development. Now is the time to question, weather those pledges and responsibilities are dispensed or delivered?

    Best regards
    ali al-Hakim

  2. Na shakhe gul hi unchi he na diware chaman bulbul
    Hamari kotahiye himat apni qismat ki pasti he…


    As we are discussing and removing the curtains from the problems which were covered by some of our MOAZIZ and MOHTARAM SAHIBAAN things come to us and we realize the problems and issues.
    One point i liked very much which Al Hakim has discussed that though indivisually we have deleloped our selves but we are lacking a spirit of Collectiveness. We have to accept one hard truth that we have become extra over confident that we are a very developed and sesible community, which is not 100 % true. Other thing is that we have become more Materialistic. WE value things more than human Biengs and human relations.
    This is the start that we have started diagnosing the injuries in society. we have to strive alot if we wanna cure them.
    The process of cure is quite tough and challenging but not impossible.
    AAJ TV

  4. The development process is only possible when all the culprits in the management of dry port will stop their bull shit politics including the local ones. They are doing all these things just for their personal interests.
    As per my opinion we all are responsible for the current situation that has been created in the region there is no unity between individuals and town levels that is the main cause that we are still in backward position
    “Hamain apny kabay ki hifazath khud karni hai ababeel ka lashkar nahi aany wala ”

    There should be a local body with in the region which includes representatives from every town, who make policies for all the business related peoples,
    Local body should prepare a memorandum to collect funds from the dry port trust (Govt.) as well as from the businessmen come over there for business 4m every part of the country to fulfill the requirements and basic needs of the whole area like Electricity, Gas, Water, and to reduce the pollution etc.
    Local Body must make sure that there should be no disturbance in any town because of dry port issues especially there should be no problem for the people of SOST because the nearest side of the dry port is residential area.
    All these will only be possible when the people living in the region understand the importance of unity.

    Almighty Allah May Guide Us to Live with Unity and Peace


    Piyar Ali

  5. I don’t think it is wise to put the blame on the institutions. Yes, I do agree with those who think that there has been a very large scale change in the socio-economic outlook of Hunza. If you compare today with the period of 1960-70, or earlier, you will have a more fair comprehension of the state of affairs.

    Advancements in the field of education are the biggest achievements. How many Hunzais could read/write/go-to-school, 40 years ago? How many of them go today?

    I think the issue lies in the time frames that we live in. Our elders have lived in a period of poverty, ignorance, disconnect, that we don’t share with them. Thus, the same level of change that seems ‘radical’ for them does not impress us – who live in cities, watch the ‘development’ of the world on the tv, on internet etc, or live in highly developed parts of the world. We need to appreciate their frames of references and, thus, their statements/assertions. But we have the right to not agree with whatever they might claim/say/assert.

    I, personally, believe in the following quote:


    and as Mahatma Gandhi had said ” Be the change that you want to see in the world”. So we all need to be the change, rather than expecting it to happen.

    We must be proud of the elders of our society who despite of the little exposure that was available to them welcomed the changes and prepared us to come at a level where we can criticize ourselves, our society and even our forefathers. If they had not accepted the radical transition from herding cattle to entering schools, we, still, may have been singing the beautiful songs in the pastures of Hunza/Gojal.


  6. Salam

    Noor bhai you are right in saying that the position we are pssesing today is due to our elders and their sacrifices.
    There is no doubt that they have done alot for us. One thing i dont agree lup yor that every one has to accept that there are people who have really expolited the system,we are not going to act like rebbels or say something to hurt them. what we say and what my thinking is that what ever they have done according to their frame of thinkink or time has made some losses. we should not repeat them. there is nothing like dishearting them…….
    AAJ TV

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