Gilgit-Baltistan traders protest against Pak WEBOC

Gilgit-Baltistan traders protest against Pak WEBOC
The markets are closed during a strike called by the traders protesting the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in Rawalpindi February 21, 2006. Pakistani Islamists vowed on Monday to broaden a campaign against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to target the Pakistani and U.S. presidents, but failed in a bid to debate the crackdown on the unrest in parliament. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Gilgit-Baltistan [Pakistan]: Traders in the town of Gilgit in Pakistan organized a 180-kilometer-long car rally recently to protest against the Federal Board of Revenue’s newly implemented Web-Based One Custom (WEBOC).

The protest car rally began from Gilgit and culminated at Sost along the Karakoram Highway. It was organized under the banner of the ‘Anjuman Tajiraan Border Pass Gilgit-Baltistan’. It was led by local traders Ebad Nagri and Bilal Khwaja.

The protest rally was supported by the Awami Action Committee (AAC). Slogans were raised against the FBR. Participants carried placards that had captions such as ‘Na Manzoor Na Manzoor, WEBOC Na Manzoor'(We do not accept WEBOC), and added that they saw this as an attempt by the federal authorities to deprive locals of their jobs.

The protest comes more than a month after the National Logistic Cell (NLC) assumed functional control of the Sost dry port, which is located near the Khunjerab Pass.

The Gilgit-Baltistan region borders China on the Karakoram side and is a key aspect of the USD over 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Repeated protests and agitations by the traders has led to border trade between the Gilgit-Baltistan region and China remaining suspended for more than 40 days.

Traders are demanding that Gilgit-Baltistan be declared a Free Trade Zone (FTZ). They say that the imposition of WEBOC is a violation of their basic rights and threatened to escalate their protest across the whole of Gilgit-Baltistan before undertaking a march to the FBR headquarters in Islamabad.