Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saphire Dome Drama: Story of Sost Port Controversy

The sapphire dome bloomed at an altitude of 9, 00 feet, above the sea level in the border town called Sost located in Gilgit Baltistan, the so-called northern areas. It is part of the Silk Route Customs Dry Port complex created by Silk Route Port Company, another symbol of Sino-Pak fraternity and cooperation. This port was built at a cost of PRK 500 million. This port has been erected to facilitate the on land trade between China and Pakistan. This port has been successfully operating for one year. Authorities claim that this port is the biggest developmental project launched in the northern areas after the construction of Karakurum Highway in the early seventies. The port has been a source of great economic activity for the whole region. Trade has become more organized and about seven hundred people have been able to win the much lacking “job” facility. The indirect economic prospects of this port are also immense and people seem to be enjoying the fruits of this development. However, the port has a political air about it. The former Mir family of Hunza, to which the deputy chief executive of northern areas Ghazanfar Ali Khan belongs, is in full hold of all key positions at the port. His son, Saleem, is the vice chairman. And he and his wife, a recently elected technocrat, Ateeqa, are the directors. Apart from them there are other people from the feudal family who hold main positions at the port. Recently a rift aroused between Saleem and his cousin, Shehbaz Khan, who is a member of Gilgit District Council, which resulted in an interesting event at the port. The press reported that Shehbaz Khan, after being retired from directorial position, along with Mirza Hassan, another retired director-cum-administrator, tried to capture the control of the port. He walked into the office of the directors and ordered the opening of the port after the routine winter closure of trade. The police intervened and Shehbaz Khan and his supporters were stopped from creating a law and order situation. Observers say that the dispute between these two directors has a family-dispute background to it. It seems that the two cousins are in a power game and each one of them wants to have an upper hand in the affairs of the port. This has resulted in the bifurcation of the employees of the port. Some support Shehbaz and others want Saleem to rule the port. The dispute has crept out of the port and taken a regional and ethnic color as well. The two major ethnic groups living in the port have become divided over the issue of who controls the port and to what extent. It is most unfortunate that politicians are intent on destroying regional harmony for the sake of money and authority. The port has a potential to become a major poverty reduction tool but it seems that the poverty struck region would not be able to benefit from the port for long times due to the uncalled-for political intervention in the affairs of the port. The management also removed all the local security guards from the port and replaced them with the notorious Frontier Corps. Numerous incidents of theft at the port had bewildered the traders and they where asking for tightening the security arrangements. Having failed to control the thefts through proper managerial actions, the authorities have deprived all the security guards from their jobs without any judicial or internal investigations and have instead brought in the paramilitary forces to look after the port: another example of dependence on military might, even if the prefix “para” is attached with it. What had to be a job creator has now become a garrison for the F.C “Jawans” and many innocent guards are once again roaming here and there looking for jobs. The new administrator, Eaman Shah, who is also the Vice-Chairman of District Council Gilgit, has come up with this innovative idea. He is an elected representative of his constituency but wants to rule the port climbing on the shoulder of Frontier Constabulary. The frontier corps has an ill reputation in the entire region and they are considered to be barbarian in nature. Bringing such a notorious and illiterate force to guard a business venture is completely ridiculous. The administration of the port has mysteriously reached the conclusion that the Frontier Constabulary is honest and the “Jawans” would not themselves indulge in stealing goods from their own custody!! Some times ago two Jawans of the F.C were caught red handedly in Gilgit, when they were plundering a shop, by the local police, at mid night. The press had boldly published this news at that time. Some believe that giving the security of this port to F.C is like appointing a wolf to guard a herd of cattle. The concern of the people is quite genuine and can not be ignored. Whereas the Jawans of F. C are paid by the government of northern areas, whether or not they deserve it, those ousted by this unilateral decision are now jobless. It is high time for the intelligentsia of the region to rise and stop all the evil that has been going on. The grand children of the Mir of Hunza must realize that their internal conflict is harming the future of the entire region. They should behave more professionally and resolve their family matters inside their homes. Making a national asset an arena for family fights is not a wise step. Shehbaz Khan and Saleem should respect the norms of the region and live peacefully, while encouraging trade and genuine investment in the remote region. It is in the long term interest of all of us.


اگر ممکن ہے تو اپنا تبصرہ تحریر کریں

اہم اطلاع :- غیر متعلق,غیر اخلاقی اور ذاتیات پر مبنی تبصرہ سے پرہیز کیجئے, مصنف ایسا تبصرہ حذف کرنے کا حق رکھتا ہے نیز مصنف کا مبصر کی رائے سے متفق ہونا ضروری نہیں۔

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