CPEC: Gilgit-Baltistan to be declared free trade zone, says Dastgir

Published: June 23, 2016
A view of the port city of Gwadar. PHOTO: REUTERS

A view of the port city of Gwadar. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to declare Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) as a free trade zone to promote business activity in the area, according to Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir.

Talking to a group of journalists, the federal minister said G-B had paramount importance in making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project a success due to its geographical location and in that regard, the government had decided to declare the area as a free trade zone.

G-B receives 25 vehicles from Chinese govt for CPEC

A big trade processing zone would be established under the CPEC near the Gilgit city, Dastgir elaborated.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a gateway between China and Pakistan and the region links the two countries at Khunjerab Pass. The area also holds immense importance as far as the CPEC is concerned, as a 450km chunk of the corridor route will pass through the territory.

The people of G-B have already demanded establishment of industrial zones in the region. Additionally, they demanded that offices of the Chinese investment company should be established so that business and job opportunities for the local people could be created.

The minister said G-B had as much importance for the CPEC as Gwadar and it would be facilitated to the maximum extent. He said the federal government had asked the G-B chief minister to submit a plan in this regard.

The minister said the free trade zone status would attract local and foreign investment in the area. “This project will change the fate of the area and its resources will be tapped once investments start coming to that area,” the minister said.

G-B police starts patrolling CPEC route

The mineral and hydroelectric power sectors have much potential for foreign investment. He said state-of-the-art infrastructure in G-B under the CPEC would result in attracting huge investments in addition to providing a shorter route for traders in China to access the sea for shipping their goods.

Additionally, he said, the area’s geography was strategically important since G-B bordered Central Asian states and the region would be the focal point for any trade corridors with these states.

Dastgir said after receiving cold shoulder from Afghanistan regarding a transit trade agreement with Tajikistan, since a narrow strip of Afghanistan’s land stands between Tajikistan and Pakistan, Islamabad was now considering accessing Central Asian States via China. However, he said efforts to bring Afghanistan on the transit trade fold would continue.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2016.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Shuaib
    Jun 23, 2016 - 8:32AM

    Dastigir don’t waste time with Afghans. They are an Indian colony. Let them go to India. Let us strengthen ties with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will get closer and Afghanistan will be isolated.Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Jun 23, 2016 - 10:01AM

    Don’t declare free trade zone.declare free countryRecommend

  • Pashtun
    Jun 23, 2016 - 10:24AM

    How are you going to connect with those countries?
    You have to go through us to go anywhere in Central Asia!
    Afghanistan is none’s colony but pakistan was Afghanistan colony & will be again. Recommend

  • lmao
    Jun 23, 2016 - 11:29AM

    Progress, development and growth everywhere. CPEC bring astonishing amount of benefits to the country. Recommend

  • Ch
    Jun 23, 2016 - 11:35AM

    haha…… nuclear Pakistan will be colony of afghan ? come on boy.. grow up
    after all afghanistan is fifth province of pakistan. connectivity is possible with central asia through China. you people are still living in stone age . you people are at least 100 years behind from Pakistan.Recommend

  • LOL
    Jun 23, 2016 - 11:47AM

    @Pashtun: says someone who had his country attacked by more than 10 nations’ militaries, not to mention 99% of the country being a no-go area.Recommend

  • pashtoon of pak
    Jun 23, 2016 - 12:21PM

    Annexed this area of Wakhan by force ,afghanistan has No control over this area ,their govt is reduced to prsidential palace ,as the area belong to chitral and both sides of people are broghi and chitralis, if india did with Kashmir, and siachin. it can be done with wakhan area too then can be usd as bargaining chip Recommend

  • baloch
    Jun 23, 2016 - 2:16PM

    balochistan and people no policy to growth. They are still thinking not thinking for themRecommend

  • Amanullah Khan
    Jun 23, 2016 - 10:05PM

    At what cost the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is being declared as a free Zone? The statement of Federal Minister Ghulam Dastgir, creates doubts in the minds of people of Gilchistan. Till date no announcement has been made by the Prime Minister in respect of share in CPEC project to our people. Both the smaller provinces KpK and Baluchistan have got their share of 12 Economic Zones, by showing their unity and strength. Sudden announcement of Dastgir, seems a hidden Agenda in the matter that could be; a) depriving of the people from the constitutional rights (on the behest of Kashmiri leadership), of proposed Gilchistan Province for further unlimited period; b) shifting of Dry port to Havelian the constituency of Captain Safdar the son in law of the PM that would cause a huge loss in billions of rupees to the people of Gilchistan and d) to pacify the feelings of anonymity against the PMLN Government which could not meet the promises made through announcements in public meetings particularly the construction and widening of Gilgit Skardu road etc. Recommend

  • Amanullah Khan
    Jun 23, 2016 - 10:58PM

    Till 1892 the Wakhan strip was pasture of Chitral, Ishkoman and Hunza the parts of Gilchistan province. Col Durand who was Political Agent (Deputy Commissioner) at Gilgit to the British Government in India. Britishers were very much afraid of the increasing power of USSR. They wanted to avoid the confrontation with Russia. Therefore, they decided to create a free zone in between both the countries. Col Durand invited Mehtar Chitral, Raja Ishkoman and Mir of Hunza to Gilgit to discuss the Plan. He asked all the three rulers to cooperate with him as British Government has decided to declare Wakhan strip as a no man land. Accordingly the announcement was made after convincing the Russians. The shepherds used to take their animals to those pastures of Wakhan strip for grazing purposes till late Sixtees. There after regular grazing has been abandoned because of many reasons including prioritizing to educating the youth. Hunza owned the part of the strip in between its territory and Tajikistan and part of the pasture neighboring and linking to Kirghistan which has been surrendered to China in 1963 by the Government of Pakistan without the will of people of Hunza. Wakhan strip is very much part of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Jun 25, 2016 - 11:20AM

    A road from Islamabad till Gilgit will provide gilgit-baltistan a huge increase of tourism….both local and foreign Recommend

  • Muzahir Hussain
    Aug 26, 2016 - 9:40AM

    the huge project named CPEC has been started through bilateral relationship PAk and China. but the innocent people of Gilgit-Baltistan are still confused about the said project. what is the importance of CPEC for GB? this question is still traveling in the mind of GB people. But the high ups of Pakistan has obliterating the importance of this project as CPEC is tiger having wings which will take both nations to up and up and the Minister Dastagir has obliterated in his speech as due to CPEC the GB will be trade free zone. All these are perceptions and arguments before the time. let the bridge come first what will be happen but come what may we the people of GB having a geographical importance for all over the world dammed that we need the separate Provence if the high ups accepted us the part of pakistan.

    otherwise i thing CPEC will be useful only for China not any part of Pakistan.
    regards: payamRecommend

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