Sost Dry Port Row: FIRs registered by both sides

The Dry Port in Sost is located in a very strategic area. However, the local shareholders have yet to benefit from the huge investment
The Dry Port in Sost is located in a very strategic area. However, the local shareholders have yet to benefit from the huge investment. PT File Photo

Gojal, July 6: First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered by the police in Sost acting on applications of both, the Sost Dry Port management and the newly elected Dry Port Trust cabinet, led by former MD NATCO, Zafar Iqbal.

The Chinese led Sost Dry Port management has dropped the names of GBLA Speaker Wazir Baig and MLA Mutabiat Shah from their application, nominating Zafar Iqbal along with 25 unidentified people.

At the same time, FIR has been registered against three Chinese officials of the Dry Port along with their two alleged local accomplices, for attacking Zafar Iqbal in his office and illegally occupying the Trust’s office, in violation of the Chief Court’s order. The main offender, who allegedly attacked Zafar Iqbal with a knife yesterday, has been identified as Ju Yi, alias John, a citizen of China.

There are reports of the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad being involved in efforts to resolve the issue, which has the potential to blow into an international news, due to the influence of the port’s management, as well as due to proximity of the port to the Chinese border.

“This port was being presented as a symbol of Pak-China friendship and cooperation. However, due to highhanded approach of the Chinese led management who control around 60% of the shares in the company, has given them an opportunity to exploit to the situation in their favor”, an official told Pamir Times, requesting anonymity. The Chinese cabinet has been accused of suppressing the local shareholders and keeping them out of the decision-making process.

Many people are asking if this is how it is going to be in the future, when the proposed Sino-Pak Economic Corridor is expected to further increase the Chinese influence in the region.

Meanwhile, the previous cabinet of the Trust, which represents the local shareholders, has failed to appear clean and has been avoiding independent audit for a long time. The ultimate losers are the local shareholders who are waiting for returns on their investments, despite of a lapse of 12 years.

There are also reports that the initial contract with the Chinese investors (Sino Trans) had come to an end in 2013 and that there is a need for a fresh contract between the Port Trust and the Chinese enterprise.

Some sources, on condition of anonymity, have informed that the contract has already been extended by the Chinese members of the Company, without informing the local shareholders, who hold 40% of the company’s shares. The extension cost, reportedly, is around 40 million rupees.

Local people in the region are expressing disappointment at the conduct of the previous Trust cabinet, for refusing to hold independent audit of its accounts and not handing over records to the newly elected cabinet.

It is pertinent to note that the previous cabinet, led by Ali Afsar, had come to power after a mass movement that continued for several days.

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