by Farman Ali

The Government of Pakistan and China after the opening of Karakoram Highway realised the need to facilitate and promote cross border trade by establishing a dry port at Sost which was ultimately set up in 1998. A trust was registered with the Northern Areas Government in 1999 to develop the infrastructure and safeguard the interests of the people. In order to involve foreign technology, skills and investment a private company was registered in the name of Silk Route Port Company to manage the port affairs and look after the interests of the shareholders.

The trustees after establishing the Silk Route Port Company, entered into a joint venture agreement with a Chinese company, Sinotrans Alashenko Company, on 22nd February, 2002. The JV Company was registered in Gilgit in the name of Pak-China Sost Port Company. Under the agreement the Chinese company holds a share of 60 per cent in the form of construction and providing machinery for the port while the Pakistani side holds 40 per cent share for an agreed period of 10 years starting from the registration of the company in 2004.

There are 7 directors in the Pak-China Sost Port Company, four from the Chinese side and three from the Pakistan side who are elected by the board of directors of their respective companies.

Ghazanfar Ali Khan and Saleem Khan were holding an honorary position for three years, as they had no share or any kind of investment — land or cash — in the company. Both of them with others directors were removed from their post on 26th April 2006 by majority votes of 14 directors for their alleged misuse of power and misappropriation of company funds, and the conspiracies to ultimately turn the port into its private property. Mr Burhan Shah was elected as a Vice-Chairman of the company. They took control of the port management on May 2. But the removed directors with official protocol and heavy arms stormed the port, broke the doors and a video camera of Sanjar Baig was broken and evicted the board of trustees from their offices at gun point. They also threatened the Chinese officials and even broke the door of Yuan Jianmin. The Chinese filed an FIR against Salim Khan but the police did not arrest him due to his political influence and interference. The police declared him proclaimed offender but he is still roaming around freely and without any fear.

Later on Ghazanfar appointed district councillor Iman Shah, a non-member of the trust as Deputy Managing Director illegally, as according to the Local Government Act a public representative can not hold any office to get monitory benefits.

The federal government took notice of a report filed by this reporter that appeared in daily Dawn on September 25, 2006 about the crisis and sent teams of the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) and sensitive agencies to Sost to probe the corruption and mismanagement in October 2006.

To resolve the dispute, a Reconciliation Committee comprising 40 notables, public representatives and political leaders was established in October 2006.

The committee met the shareholders and landowners and obtained their consent to resolve the dispute through arbitration and submitted a detailed report to the Northern Areas administration, requesting the government to restrain both the parties from interfering in the port affairs.

Ghazanfar Ali Khan and others despite expressing their confidence in the Reconciliation Committee and giving written undertaking that they would accept whatever decision was taken by the committee regarding the port affairs, backed out, when the committee after probing the financial irregularities announced holding of elections on April 22, 2007. Mr Ghazanfar violated the agreement and moved a local court against the committee’s decision.

The shareholders and trustees at a special meeting held on 4th April 2008 again removed Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Salim Khan, Barkat, Shahbaz Khan and Iman Shah from their positions for not convening Silk Dry Port Trust’s AGM, not auditing the accounts, not holding any election for the board of trustees, using local bureaucracy, misbehaving with the trustees, and other mismanagement.

The new management took over the control of the port with the opening of Pakistan-China border at Khunjerab pass for trade and tourism on May 1, 2008 amid fanfare and jubilation. But instead of accepting the Trustees’ decision, Mr Ghazanfar filed a case against the Board of Trustees and other public representatives. The civil court ordered the arrest of the board of trustees and their legal adviser Advocate Ehsan Ali and sent a heavy police force in the area to harass the new management and the community. But the Board of trustees through their lawyer moved the district and session’s court Gilgit against the lower court decision. The district and sessions court suspended the order of a lower court and restrained the local police from taking any action against the new management.

Ghazanfar is now using his Chief executive Office to influence the local administration by writing letters to President Musharraf, COAS and Corps Commander of Rawalpindi.

This is a conspiracy by hidden hands to create unrest in this sensitive area and capture the port which is bound to affect Pakistan’s relations with China.

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  1. One should must be thank full to Mr. Farman Ali for chronological narration of Sost dry port crisis which is really worth of consideration, and thought provoking, He also has the credit of reporting the issue in national press for long time, and much of attention attracted by the port issue in Islamabad was just because of his reporting and highlighting the matter .

    Some of the events were mind blowing and confusing which needs more deliberation and understanding for general public and new management to make future course of action. There are few questions and, we expect and would like Farman Ali to have some in-depth journalistic investigation into the matter, as he may have good source of information’s being in journalistic circle. Like

    1. What prompted Ghazanfar and the chines company to register another Private limited company in February 2007?

    2. What happened to the previous company?

    3. Who entered in agreement with Chines Company, Ghazanfar or Ghazanfar on behalf of the Trust? Or as chairman of the “Silk Route Port Company”

    4. Do there exist a trust, where it is registered and what its memorandum of association says. Who were the signatories the memorandum.

    5. What was the purpose of registering the “Silk route port Company” as private company

    6. If the trust is registered, why the violation of article was not reported to the concern department by the trust members?

    7. Why the trust members were restored to illegal occupation of the port rather then fighting judicial battle, why criminal proceeding of force occupation, fraud, misappropriation and violation of the memorandum of association was not initiated against Ghazanfar.

    8. What agreement was reached between Landowners and Ghazanfar . Do landowners were also member of the private company.

    9. Under company act how cum a conciliation and arbitration committee is mandated to call election of the registered company

    10. Why the concern department, (I am not sure which public organization is regulating the affairs of the company in Gilgit on pattern of Securities and Exchange Commission) took notices of the malfunctioning of its registered company as the annual audit report and meeting minutes of AGM (Annual General Body Meeting) and any EAGM (Extra Ordinary General Body Meeting) were required by the concern department. The department is also custodian of all the rules and regulation laid down in the Memorandum of association and wants strict follow.

    Hope there must be lot more questions in peoples mind, may I have asked some unwise and irrelevant questions. I am sure we all want transparency and fairness in judging the issues. Unless and until we were not been able to reach the root cause and exposed the real culprits this issue will remain bone of contention for the people of Hunza.

  2. Mr Farman the real man of words and action. I spent my entire life in the urbanized world of Pakistan from Karachi to Islamabad. But it always gives a great pain to me when I go through to different newspaperas and even media that represents the people of Pakistan. If there is any convocation of any collage in any part of Pakistan its present in the news, any Cow is dead in Hayderabad, even I knew that 100 chicken died of Hyderabad in a farm ,I know that what color is of Zardariz horses .What cigar does Shaik Rashid love to have etc.
    And have sited articles which I can count on the tip of my fingers, about Northern Areas as a hole , most of them reported by only one many and in one newspaper , Mr.Farman. I would called him the only voice and the real voice of the whole area. We should be thankful to him the whole area. I salute him to his brave act.
    On the other hand I have one question which all the time pinches me and I try to find out that what are we and why we are not in the aspect of the country. What is the reason? Why we are not important to others to be reported. Are we not from this country? What do we need to have that can make us equal to the animals of rest of the country so we can be heard?
    May be we are not true Pakistani? But , aren’t we the people who where the first to accept Pakistan as our homeland by rejecting India. May be we have no contribution to the country socialy, moral and economically development of the country. But isn’t North the only source of hydro power generation, the only attraction with great dimension in tourism. May be we are not patriot toward Pakistan but what about all the young lifes, which we have been bestowing on Pakistan since 1947 and still ready to continue.
    Coming to the point the incident of SDP is an important issue to both the relation between China and Pakistan on the bigger picture and a crucially important issue to the life and economy of the area, but was only reported by one newspaper the Daily Dawn and not even by the low publication newspapers. Why? Because the SDP is in Northern Area.
    In the end, I once again congratulate Mr. Farman to be the only and the first on national level as our only voice and force. Next I have great expectation from NOOR, Zulfiqar and his brave team to their act and action and giving our voice a chance to be expressed.

  3. ………..thanks farman also to noor n zulfi 4 providing the real essence of the background of sust dry port which is the reflection of truth….COZ I HAD REQUESTED NOOR 4 THE BACKGROUND SCENE OF SOST DRY PORT….nv i wana ask 4 the SOLUTION of the hot issue on the behalf of PAMIR TIMES..we will wait 4 ur reply

  4. hi khik makhluq
    reflecting on azizqurban’s point of view its not of putting ur thnx comments and increasing the number of comments in the pamir news blog making the editor and others happy that we are having that much would be better to come up with new ideas,a new way of brainstorming rather then asking for background and solution.

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