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NLI Market Gilgit: A Hub of Chinese Imports

The Northern Light Infantry (NLI) Market in Gilgit, Pakistan, is a bustling hub of activity and commerce. Established in 1992, the market was initially built to support the families of soldiers and officers of the Northern Light Infantry, an infantry regiment of the Pakistan army based in Gilgit.

Over time, it has grown into a significant commercial center, attracting traders and customers from far and wide, thanks to Pak-China trade via Khunjerab Pass.

“The NLI Market’s strategic location in Gilgit, which borders China, India, and Afghanistan, has made it a focal point for trade, particularly with China,’’ says Mohammad Khan, a businessman in Gilgit, the capital of the Gilgit-Baltistan region.

According to Khan, when the market was first being built, businessmen from the neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, who were already trading in Chinese goods, saw an opportunity. They recognized that the market would become a hub for trade related to China, and they were right.

Today, the NLI Market is known for its wide array of Chinese imports. From crockery and clothes to electronics, garments, and toys, the market is a treasure trove of Chinese goods.

Of the 300 shops constructed in the first phase, over 80 percent were hired by businessmen from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The NLI Market is the biggest market in Gilgit city, inhabited by about half a million people. It offers a diverse range of products and services, making it a one-stop shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. The market houses clothing brands, jewelry stores, shoe brands, electronics shops, mobile shops, bakeries, grocery stores, banks, garment shops, small restaurants, mobile network franchises, tailors, kid shops, gift shops, and even carpet stores.

The market is also home to stores selling precious gemstones and local dry fruits like apricots, almonds, and pistachios at much cheaper prices. These items, along with Chinese shoes and other products, are popular among shoppers.

Located in the heart of Gilgit City, the NLI Market is a major attraction for those visiting Gilgit and the other parts of the northern areas. Despite the traffic, people find the market convenient due to its wide variety of available goods and services.

The market’s atmosphere is often compared to that of Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Its clean and well-maintained environment, coupled with the warm hospitality of the Gilgiti people, makes shopping at the NLI Market a pleasant experience.

‘’The NLI Market in Gilgit is more than just a market, says Shazia Naz, a teacher who often visits the market for shopping purposes.

 ‘’It’s a symbol of the region’s economic vitality and cultural diversity,’’ she added.

NLI market’s unique blend of local and imported goods, particularly from China, reflects the region’s strategic importance and its connections with its neighbors. Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist, a visit to the NLI Market is a must when in Gilgit.


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