Bad for business: In Pakistan’s last border town before China, a schism deepens over a slap

Published: July 13, 2014
This photograph was shared with Pamir Times by Gul Sher Khan, the port’s PRO. He claimed that the Chinese official was beaten while on the other hand, Zafar Iqbal, who appears to be in the brown shirt, has said that he was attacked inside his office with a knife or clip. PHOTO COURTESY: PAMIRTIMES.NET

This photograph was shared with Pamir Times by Gul Sher Khan, the port’s PRO. He claimed that the Chinese official was beaten while on the other hand, Zafar Iqbal, who appears to be in the brown shirt, has said that he was attacked inside his office with a knife or clip. PHOTO COURTESY: PAMIRTIMES.NET


In Sost, all it takes is a slap to bring life to a halt.

It was allegedly administered on Saturday and is still sending shockwaves through the town that signals you are close to China.

The recipient of the slap is said to be a female Chinese staffer at the Sost Dry Port which is part managed by the company Sino-Trans. Matters came to a head on Thursday when the Chinese staff closed the gates and did not let anyone in to protest the manhandling. The police intervened and restricted the Chinese staff to their residential quarters. The port will open on Monday, though, the spokesman for Sino-Trans company, Gul Sher Khan told The Express Tribune on Saturday.

The physical assault is, however, just one twist in the plot that runs much deeper into the struggle for the ownership of the dry port itself.

The controversy

The tussle is between the old and new management.

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 Zafar Iqbal as chairman. A retired bureaucrat who also previously worked in a government-supported transport company called NATCO, Iqbal says when he went to assume office, he was refused access. This is corroborated by a letter a magistrate, Mir Alam, wrote to update the deputy commissioner on the situation. “The chairman, Zafar Iqbal, and his directors had requested [access to] the office but Mr Zhang Yi refused to vacate [it] without permission from the Chinese chairman.”

A court also ordered the authorities to have the office vacated. The deputy commissioner of Hunza-Nagar was told by the chief minister’s secretariat on June 24 to execute the court order to “vacate the office of the vice-chairman occupied illegally by the Chinese partners”.

On Saturday, July 12, the government issued a notification saying that for 20 days the Sost Dry Port would be managed by the old set-up, that is, the Chinese.

The slap

On Saturday July 5, Pak-China Sost Port Company spokesman Gul Sher Khan accused Zafar Iqbal of forcing his way into the dry port’s office with 20 party workers, lawmaker Mutabiat Shah and Gilgit-Baltistan Speaker Wazir Baig. Baig is accused of slapping a female Chinese employee. There appears to have been a scuffle over the office.

Wazir Baig maintains, however, that he was just popping in to survey the progress of development projects in the area. While passing though the dry port, he said he thought to stop over to see the Chinese official as a goodwill gesture. “But to my surprise they [the Chinese] didn’t turn up, even though I waited for almost half an hour in the port,” said Baig. He denies that he or any other member misbehaved with their staff, let alone beat them. “It is wrong [to say] that the doors of the office were broken. A magistrate accompanying us opened it in the presence of many people to let the incumbent assume office, denied to him by the other group illegally.”

It is not clear why he was present specifically on the day the magistrate’s action was to take place if he was just popping in for a courtesy call.

The allegation of the slap was also rejected by Zafar Iqbal, who claimed instead that he was attacked and injured by a Chinese staffer with a knife as he entered the office to assume work as mandated by a court order.

Both sides have registered cases against each other at the local police station.

In one FIR, three Chinese officials and two of their alleged local accomplices, were nominated for allegedly attacking Zafar Iqbal and occupying the trust’s office in defiance of the court order. A Chinese citizen identified as Ju Yi alias John was nominated as the main accused for leading the alleged attack on Zafar Iqbal.

In the second FIR, the Chinese company wanted to nominate Speaker Wazir Baig but the police rejected this application, saying it wasn’t possible under the rules. Instead, according to the dry port’s spokesman Gul Sher Khan, Zafar Iqbal and 12 others were nominated in the FIR. Among the offences was breaking the doors to the office and misbehaving with the staff.

Additionally, the government decided that a tehsildar would oversee the port to keep an eye on any other outbreaks of violence.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • Malik Abdul Rehman
    Jul 13, 2014 - 2:37AM

    mere looking at the picture and reading the story tells me whose fault it was……visiting the area and a goodwill gesture……… story bro!!!!


  • XT
    Jul 13, 2014 - 3:28AM

    Reminds me of “The East India Company”


  • Rafi Ka Deewana
    Jul 13, 2014 - 4:26AM

    The true colors shown by the deeper than ocean friends! Imagine what will happen 20 years from now when the Chinese run half of the country! Pakistanis will not even be allowed to enter into their own property!


  • writer
    Jul 13, 2014 - 4:31AM

    Pakistanis in charge, generally don’t do anything, just want easy money, bribes and are very difficult to work with. Retired bureaucrats are just that, retired, give it to someone who actually works and does not shuffle paper.


  • someone
    Jul 13, 2014 - 7:45AM

    Seems like Chinese have started to show Pakistanis who is the boss.


  • Professor
    Jul 13, 2014 - 8:34AM

    Higher than Himalaya, sweeter than honey. Now angrier than a hornet.


  • Bye Bye Gwadar!
    Jul 13, 2014 - 8:38AM

    Imagine what will happen to a Pakistani if he goes near Gwadar in 10 years’ time!


  • Hafiz
    Jul 13, 2014 - 8:57AM

    I support China from afghanistan!!


  • Shuaib
    Jul 13, 2014 - 9:25AM

    It will run 10x better under the Chinese, we can’t run our own country. Anyhow this should be sorted out, seriously this nonsense needs to stop. We can’t afford this bigotry from our side!


  • Jul 13, 2014 - 11:10AM

    Wazir baig is great leader…we support himRecommend

  • Jul 13, 2014 - 12:09PM

    Reminds me of the book The Last Moughal by William Delrymple where he tells us the story as to how British came begging for permission for trade and so on to the climax when the severed heads of sons of Emperor Bahadur Shah were presented to him on a ‘Thaal’
    Have we learnt any thing from the history? Now people of Pakistan should rethink what is happening with China. In politics there never ever have been permanent foes or friends. Wake up.


  • Moiz Omar
    Jul 13, 2014 - 3:07PM

    This might slightly hurt our relations with the Chinese.


  • Truthful
    Jul 13, 2014 - 6:07PM

    I am a Pakistani and I will blame the Pakistani side here because I know how corrupt these Pakistani officials are. Whatever the reasons you are not allowed to slpa someone.


  • Avtar
    Jul 13, 2014 - 6:58PM

    The old tried trick is to renege on the agreement. Pakistan did recently to American Barrick, a gold mining company, after the company had invested millions of dollars for two decades. The documents were approved by the Balochistan and Pakistan governments. The only thing is how seriously will the Chinese take!
    Besides the Baloch and Pushtun tribals extract their take one way or the other. Then are the tribals in the Northern areas! Americans have not been spared either despite paying hefty fees.


  • Huma
    Jul 13, 2014 - 9:47PM

    The Pakistani are at fault. Recently, an mpa slapped a factor in faisalabad for not standing up and greeting him. These bureaucrats and politicos think they are the present day Mughals. As for the comparisons with East India company, I will happily trade them for the parasites that rules us today’s.


  • Jul 13, 2014 - 10:09PM

    Pakistanis are peaceful people. They never indulge in any violent activities. It is the sole mistake of the Chinese to threaten us with knives and snakes. Let Hafiz Saeed and Zaid Hamid give warning to Chinese. If time permits, warning to Sri Lanka and Myenmar also.


  • salaam
    Jul 13, 2014 - 11:09PM

    We or the Chinese are not suited to do joint ventures. Make Chinese only ventures with safeguards for national interests, period.


  • Khan chacha
    Jul 13, 2014 - 11:44PM

    Who is this Zafar Iqbal? how dare he fight with our chinese brothers this Zafar iqbal must be put behind the bars.


  • student
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:07AM

    Retired (old tyer of car) using again!! Plenty of people are there to work who are eager and talented.
    This is as same as retired army personel who writes their future again after retirement :)
    Still we love our Army indeed


  • Maharaj_US
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:17AM

    @Khan chacha:
    No trials? Summary justice? Chinese, at least, some of them, are capable of behaving condescendingly. On Pak airports, I have seen them cut through lines. We need friends, not masters. Actually, Chinese friendship with Pakistan, much like of any other nation, is based on self-interests. Get real.


  • Raj - USA
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:41AM

    It is the Chinese guy whose shirt has been ripped off. See the left sleeve of his shirt torn off in this photo.


  • amir jafri
    Jul 14, 2014 - 1:47AM

    Cronyism, nepotism, muuk-mukaas, biradaree system , boot licking, and baighirtee are the hallmark of Punjab..East or West.


  • kksr
    Jul 14, 2014 - 9:33AM

    After Gwadar, the whole of Pakistan should be handed over to China. Pakistanis cannot govern themselves, they need to be ruled.


  • alikhan
    Jul 14, 2014 - 11:34AM

    The real story is still behind the scene.The most talented and ever green mind of Gojal valley is Mr. Zafar Iqbal. A man who has changed the hole department of Gilgit transportation NATCO. he is capable in ever aspect. the problem is with the Chinese guy who has ended up his tenure and now wants to get a chance for extra time. I think we must support the rule of law so it is your friend or relative everyone should follow what the law says.


  • Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan
    Jul 14, 2014 - 12:04PM

    If one Chinese tried to kill our minister, it doesn’t mean we should hate all Chinese. Like Pakistanis, Chinese can be good or bad. China is our ally and good friend. Pakistan needs more allies because many Indians are waiting to kill and massacre any Pakistani, Kashmiri man, woman, child if they have the chance. Don’t forget massacres in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1980s.

    Survive, its all we have done since Indian, Soviet, Israeli designs against us. Pakistanis have an amazing capacity to struggle and live on. Pakistan is one of the greatest nations of this world. Tough like lions. This Muslim nation has seen much worse days.


  • rahul
    Jul 14, 2014 - 2:12PM

    Man ..Slapping an all weather friend china, that too a woman ?? I cant say who is right or wrong but its really funny …


  • chandran
    Jul 14, 2014 - 4:47PM

    Indians are waiting to kill and massacre any Pakistani, Kashmiri man, woman, child if they have the chance. Don’t forget massacres in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1980s.

    This comentator is saying Indians waiting to kill pakstanis what type of rubish command he is making why we have to wait to kill pakistanis without any reason it shows his terrible mindset towards Indians Here the fight is between pak and chinese man where the Indians come.


  • Hunter Punter
    Jul 14, 2014 - 5:08PM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:
    Stop fooling yourself about Pakistan being a “great” country. Pakistan is a miserably failing state, that cowers and trembles in front of China, and is an international migraine. The world thinks of Pakistan in the same way as it thinks of North korea and Somalia.


  • Pragmatist
    Jul 14, 2014 - 5:39PM

    The Chinese won’t allow Pakistanis to fast during Ramzan near Gwadar.


  • Jul 14, 2014 - 5:48PM

    @Moiz Omar: Your comment shows that you are readily prepared to adjust with this attitude of China. What about the ‘Ghairat’ and ‘Difa e Pakistan.’ Do not such incidents tell you some thing as to what can happen at the Gwadar port…. You think fault lies with Pakistani person/persons and not thinking about the audacity of Chinese that even after finishing their tenure they still want to continue.


  • Jul 14, 2014 - 5:56PM

    @Khan chacha: Sad comment. Very sad. Wonder why so many comments favour the Chinese. You are calling Chinese your brothers remember the golden era of ” Hindi Chini bhai bhai” resounding all over India at one time. Also remember how Muslims have been ordered not to keep rozas during ramzan. Think brother think.


  • Jul 14, 2014 - 6:02PM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan: I am particularly amazed to see your comment…. almost looking like a lamb. What happened to your Ghirat that you keep flouting always and every time.\?????


  • Rex Minor
    Jul 14, 2014 - 7:18PM

    Now that Pakistan military is involved in police work now; Mr Nawaz Sharif should hand over the control of the Lines of Control to Chinese military!

    Rex Minor


  • R.Subramanian
    Jul 14, 2014 - 7:41PM

    @Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan:
    This is a stupid comment no one in India thinks like that…. Indian culture is not like that, we don’t believe in violence. That’s the reason Mahatma Gandhi’s Non Violent Freedom struggle succeeded in India, so don’t talk anything rubbish like this. When the war was forced up on us (Eg. Kargil, 1971, 1965 wars), we don’t have option but we have to fight… that does not mean we deliberately want to kill Pakistanis SURELY NO ONE IN INDIA is having such kind of ugly barbaric mindset. But we feel Pakistanis are having this kind of mindset Lashkar and other terror groups are cultivated by Pakistan establishment just to kill Indians mindlessly (Eg. Mumbai attack) several of the ordinary Pakistanis are supporting the terror groups.


  • R.Subramanian
    Jul 14, 2014 - 8:01PM

    Pakistanis are thinking that by aligning with China they are having strong counter weight against India. But Pakistan has forgotten the past, this kind of mindset is the reason for Subcontinent to be enslaved by British. Indian kings without care helped British and they thought, with the help of British they can capture other kingdoms but in the end British captured entire India. Now Pakistan is doing the same, it thinks by aligning with China they can defeat India but they had forgotten the past.

    Pakistan should come out from this self defeating CRAB mindset, if we put crabs inside a basket, if one crab tries to claim up, the other crab will pull its leg down, by this way no crab can escape from the basket. Here the basket is poor, illiteracy, misgovernce, corruption, terrorism, religious hatred etc and CRABS ARE India and Pakistan, India tries to claim the basket but Pakistan tries to pull India’s leg down. Still India manages to claim with the weight in its leg.


  • Arifeen
    Jul 14, 2014 - 8:35PM

    The whole game was staged by the corrupt former district councilor Raja Shahbaz Khan and his Chinese friend Yuan Ziamin. These are the actual culprits and the enemy of PAk-China relationships.


  • Khan chacha
    Jul 15, 2014 - 1:46AM

    @VINOD: China is our best friend just like a 2nd home for us;we dont wana make enemies around us.We love China as far as Rozas are concerned this is their internal issue we dont have any right to object.


  • truthbetold
    Jul 15, 2014 - 3:23AM

    “In Pakistan’s last border town before China, a schism deepens over a slap”

    The town is in Gilgit-Baltistan. How can this be “Pakistan’s” last town? According to official Pakistani position and the constitution, all of Kashmir including G-B is disputed territory and not part of Pakistan.


  • Jul 15, 2014 - 6:44PM

    @Khan chacha: If, as per you, prohibiting Muslims to keep Roza during the holy month of Ramzan is internal matter of China then why Babri Masjid or Gujarat riots were not treated as internal matter of India, then why are you shouting when France prohibits hijab or America puts surveillance on its Muslim citizens then why do you shout when Israel wants to sort out its own matters? Do not fool yourself or others. You are are thinking that by aligning with China you are having strong counter weight against India. You are refusing to learn from history when Hindu or Muslim Kings of India thought the same and lost entire country to British who had the final laugh.


  • Moiz Omar
    Jul 19, 2014 - 12:50AM

    I didn’t explicitly put the fault on either side. I just said it has the potential to slightly harm our relations with China.


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