GILGIT: In a move that could hurt Pakistan-China cooperation, a court in a ruling this week decided to end the role of Chinese at the Sost Dry Port in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The decision follows a two-year-old dispute between employees of a local company and those of a Chinese company.
Sino-Trans of China and Dry Port (Limited) Company of Pakistan had a dispute over which company held the authority to run the affairs of the port. The dispute between staff of the two companies was taken to the court located on the periphery of Pakistan since Sost was the last town on the highway before China.
The court ruled in favour of the Sost Dry Port Trust, which later leased the port to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) for a period of 20 years.
“The decision is in our favour,” said Zafar Iqbal, Chairman of the Sost Dry Port Trust, on Thursday. “Under the agreement, the port has now been leased to the NLC,” he told The Express Tribune.
He said the decision to hand the port over to the NLC was taken in a meeting with members of the port trust. “Since army has a major role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), we are pleased to work with them,” Iqbal said.
He said he was certain that the army would make sure that the NLC handled the affairs in a better manner and the port remained a profitable entity in the future, especially in the wake of CPEC.
“Locals will be preferred for jobs at the dry port while jobs of the already employed people will be secure,” said Iqbal, referring to the agreement with the NLC.
This would be a key development in relation to the CPEC, since many have criticised that the power balance in CPEC projects has been heavily skewed in favour of China, with nearly all the key jobs being created for Chinese people.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2016.