BY OUR CORRESPODENT
GILGIT: The affairs in Sost Dry port, halted as a result of a slap two years back, are back to normal after Gilgit-Baltistan’s (G-B) Supreme appellate court dismissed a petition against Zafar Iqbal, allowing him to continue as chairman of Sost Dry Port.
The petition was filed by Chinese staffers at the Sost Dry Port which is partially managed by the Chinese company Sino-Trans.
“The decision was handed down by chief judge Justice Shameem Rana on Tuesday, dismissing the Chinese officials appeal,” a lawyer told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The decision is seen as a milestone for the region that serves as gateway for multibillion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC).
The government in Gilgit-Baltistan took control of affaris of Sost Dry Port in 2014 after Chinese and the Pakistani staffers clashed over transfer of power and audit of the port’s financial reports. One of the staffer reportedly administered a slap to another as temperatures ran high during the scufle.
The parties later on approached G-B chief court which ruled in favour of Zafar Iqbal, the chairman. The Chinese through their lawyers filed a petition in the supreme appellate court against the decision but the apex court upheld chief court’s decision.
Sost is the first formal port at the China-Pakistan border, clearing goods coming from the Chinese region of Kashghar, Xinjiang. It was opened in 2001 as a joint venture between the Sino-Trans Chinese company and the Sost Dry Port Trust, an entity representing local shareholders. The Chinese side holds 60% of the shares while the rest is owned by local investors, including women’s and village organisations, as well as individual investors. The Chinese investors control the management and their representation on the board is also placed higher, in line with the ratio of investment.
According to the agreement, the management of the port was to be handed over to Pakistan by the Chinese after 10 years.
The new management was elected in August 2013 with a retired bureaucrat Zafar Iqbal becoming as chairman.