Gilgit, November 18: The Federal Minister for Trade and Industries, Khurram Dastgir Khan, who reached here in Gilgit today, said that federal government is planning to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region a tax-free zone as early as in 2015, i.e. next year.
He made the statement while addressing a gathering of the region’s traders at the Chamber of Commerce of Industries. He also added that constitutional rights will be provided to the region by the PMLN government.
The federal minister is visiting the region on the invitation of the GB Chamber of Commerce and Industries which mostly includes people involved in import-export business with Chinese firms.
Addressing the federal minister, Javed Hussain of the Chamber of Commerce apprised him of the ‘difficulties’ being faced by local businessmen at the Chinese immigration and customs department. He said that the customs officials have not been treating the Pakistani businessmen fairly.
Meanwhile, a PMLN delegation refused to call on the federal minister, accusing him of playing in the hands of blackmailers and smugglers. “The Chamber of Commerce is full of thugs, blackmailers and smugglers”, said Haji Abid Baig of the PMLN. He said that the “criminals” want to pursue their nefarious agendas under the banner of the federal minister’s visit.
It is pertinent to note that almost all of the key PMLN regional leaders are also involved in import and export business with China.
The interest of federal parties and personalities in the Gilgit-Baltistan region has increased manifolds after the beginning of efforts aimed at establishment of an “economic corridor” between Pakistan and China, along the present day KKH. Industrialists from various parties are landing in the region to build business alliances, in view of the enormous trade potential.