GILGIT: Importers, exporters, transporters and labourers from Gilgit-Baltistan staged a protest at the Karakoram Highway (KKH) on Wednesday for the removal of Web-Based One Customs (WeBOC) system at Sust Dry Port.
Containers loaded with import and export goods are currently stranded at the Sust Port near Khunjerab Pass as traders have refused Customs clearance through WeBOC.
The call for sit in and boycott of trade between the two countries was given by the Gilgit-Baltistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GBCCI), as well as local import and export associations and trade organisations.
Addressing a press conference at the Gilgit Press Club, stakeholders said the officials of Pakistan Customs and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were reluctant in redressing genuine grievances of the region’s trade and business community.
The GB High Court had recently granted a stay on the WeBOC system at Sust Dry Port. However, the FBR and Pakistan Customs have refused to accept the stay order.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Javed Hussain, a member the GB Legislative Assembly and trader, said 50,000 people affiliated with the China-Pakistan trade are facing financial crises.
“This is a conspiracy against the GB people,” he said. Mr Hussain said that the WeBOC system has been suspended at Torkham border on demands of traders.
Former GBCCI President Johar Ali Raki said, “Collection of taxes from GB people by FBR is illegal as the area is disputed territory. Existence of Customs Collectorate in GB is unconstitutional.”
President GB Importers and Exporters Association Ashfaq Ahmed said that under the protocol agreement between Pakistan and China government in1985, barter trade between Xinjiang province of China and GB region was allowed but now the system has been suspended.
Mr Hussain Ali, a transporter, said the suspension of trade for the last two months has left thousands people jobless.
Ebdad Nagri, a local trader, said the community was expecting more job opportunities with under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “However, already available jobs have been snatched from us.”__Dawn.com