GILGIT/HUNZA, June 27: Hundreds of people including women and children staged a protest demonstration and blocked the Karakuram Highway at the Sost border town against what they called the coercive methods and highhandedness of Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Chief Executive Northern Area causing harassment to the people.
They blocked the Karakuram Highway, chanted slogans against Ghazanfar Ali Khan, District Council members Iman Shah and Raja Shehbaz Khan for “trying to create law and order situation in the peaceful region and damage the friendship between Pakistan and China.
Local community representatives said that while the chairman, and other Board members were in Kashghar to attend the joint Board of Directors meeting, the Chief Executive in collusion with the police and his cronies entered the Sost Dry Port premises forcibly after a local court vacated a stay against the former management which, however, did not envisage forcible occupation of the port in the absence of the present elected management.
Local community representatives said that the Ghazanfar group using their old tactics, thought it an opportune moment to seize the port offices while the present management was in China for important negotiations.
“The former director, Shehbaz, who is also member of District Council, came along with a group of youths and tried to run his jeep over the protesting women and children.
In the altercation with the people he was roughed up by the enraged people. According to Usman Younas, District Magistrate, Gilgit, Shehbaz was responsible for the incident as he used abusive language against the people and threatened them.
Mr Usman justified the heavy deployment of police and elite force in the area to protect Chinese nationals at the Sost Dry port and to avoid clash between the rival groups.
“The matter is subjudice but Ghazanfar wants possession of the port and this cannot be given till the court gives a final decision on the matter” he said.
Mr Usman said Ghazanfar Ali had left for China to attend the International Kashghar Trade Fair.
Meanwhile Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn in Islamabad that the Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas has taken serious notice of the situation and directed the Northern Areas administration not to use any force against the people and maintain peace.