Gojal: Protests erupt after Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Port Trust is “attacked by Chinese official” in Sost

PT Report (Updated at 12:59 pm )

Sost, July 5: Newly appointed Chairman of Sost Dry Port Trust, Zafar Iqbal, former MD of NATCO, has allegedly been attacked by a Chinese official of the Dry Port “armed with a knife/clip” inside the Trust office today, at the premises of the Silk Route Dry Port. Zafar Iqbal has, reportedly, sustained a small injury on his chest. He is currently on his way to Gulmit, the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital, for a medical checkup. It is pertinent to note that the Chairman of the Dry Port Trust is also the de jure Vice Chairman of the Pak-China Sost Dry Port Company.

The report of the attack was confirmed by Zafar Iqbal to Pamir Times in a text message. MLA Mutabiat Shah, responding to Pamir Times’s queries said that Zafar luckily saved himself from grave consequences.

Scenes from the Dry Port Trust's office today. Photos Courtesy: Sost Today
Scenes from the Dry Port Trust’s office today. Photos Courtesy: Sost Today

The newly elected cabinet of Dry Port Trust and the Chinese officials had developed differences over transferring of powers. The matter had been taken to a court, which decreed in favor of the cabinet led by Zafar Iqbal, allowing them to use the Trust’s office. However, the Chinese officials had sealed the office and they were not allowing the locals to take control of the Trust’s activities. Members of the former cabinet of the Sost Dry Port Trust had also been refusing to handover powers and records to the newly elected cabinet.

Today, the sealed office of the Port Trust was opened in the presence of GBLA Speaker Wazir Baig, MLA Mutabiat Shah and administration officials, which, reportedly enraged the Chinese officials and their local supporters; hence, the attack and the resultant protests.

MLA Mutabiat Shah told Pamir Times that Zafar was sitting in his office as per the GB Superior Court’s judgement. He added this was ‘not liked by the Chinese employees of the Sost Dry Port’ and that they acted “wickedly and illegally”.

Meanwhile, protest demonstrations have erupted in Sost, the last Pakistani town on the Karakuram Highway, where youth, local shareholders of the port, laborers and traders have condemned the attack and demanded stern action against the Chinese official (we failed to get his name and other details).

SP Hunza-Nagar and Assistant Commissioner of Hunza are also reportedly present in Sost, along with a contingent of police to get “first-hand information” and control the situation.

There are reports that FIRs are being launched by both parties. Our efforts to reach the Chinese officials to get their side of the story were unsuccessful.

Counter Allegations 

On the other side, a representative of the Dry Port’s previous cabinet, Gulsher Khan, has accused Zafar Iqbal, Wazir Baig and Mutabiat Shah of attacking the port with 25 other people and slapping a Chinese female staff present on duty. He has also accused them of breaking furniture inside the office and trying to “occupy” it.

He has also said that the “attackers” have tried to affect Pak-China relations. They have also filed an application in the Sost Police Station for registration of FIR against Wazir Baig, Zafar Iqbal and Mutabiat Shah.

Locals have, however, negated the allegations by saying that Wazir Baig and Mutabiat Shah had left for Misgar Valley to inaugurate work on construction of a 1MW hydel power project there.

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