CPEC and Gilgit-Baltistan

CPEC and Gilgit-Baltistan

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Hina Ali 

CPEC, or the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, is an opportunity in the form of a road that is promised to bring prosperity to Pakistan. The economic corridor will bring economic benefits through roads and infrastructure development in previously ignored and very important parts of the country, like Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan.

What this deal will incur and what are its implications for the people of the parts through which the road passes and will there be a change in the standard of living of the people of these parts is an important question. I will try to highlight what is the implications of this road for the people of GB because GB although not a province has a lot of importance in terms of tourism, silk road which connects the rest of the country with china.

We all know about the economic and infrastructure aspect of this deal but what we don’t know is that any road which promises infrastructure buildings and trade at this level will certainly bring some negatives and some down sides. First question is that has this deal being signed asking the consent of these people.  Are people of this region, whose lives is going to be affected by this deal, have they been asked? Why is this deal still in the shadows considering its importance? And lastly why the costs and benefits of this deal has not been evaluated.

It is easy to  make a road or an infrastructure but what vision lies behind building this road? What is the long term goal of such a road say after 40, 50 or 100 years. There was certainly a vision behind building railway tracks in USA. It opened only its economy to the rest of the world but there was an inter state connection making it easier for trade and investment. People of course couldn’t see it at that time but now people can certainly understand that what their leaders did was for their best.

I, on the other hand, seriously doubt our PM of making a visionary decision considering the recent leaks. He has a vision, certainly, in making offshore accounts but sorry to say not in making roads, education and health.

GB has a tourist attraction that attracts not only thousands but now millions of tourists. That is saying the least because this region has a potential of being much more than what it currently is. Now it is upto our leaders to decide how to turn this best to the whole country’s benefit.

What CPEC will do to this region can certainly be very benficial but what it will do to the rest of the country can be more if only leaders disclose what is at the table.

Road linkages not only bring people close to each other but they also develop a series of network through which people can trade and invest. And investments bring oppurtunities in the form of employment, employment brings prosperity.

Prosperity has been present in GB in other forms not necessarily those present in the rest of the country because their culture and way of living is very unique. Most people earn their living through farming which is an uphill task considering the mountainous terrain. Water is available through glaciers, passing through the mountains.

Life is not very easy in these regions but this is what makes these people strong and hard working. They do not always rely on the govt and they expect very little from the govt, they mostly rely on self-help that is what makes them independent taking their own decisions and not relying on others.

NGO’s are largely present which help these people in education, health and it is largely through these ngo’s aid that people are able to overcome their day to day problems.

What CPEC will do for GB is that it will bring prosperity but on a limited basis because people of these areas have not been consulted in taking a decision for building this road. They have not been a party to this decision,like so many other decisions that are taken. It is important that the trust of these people on the govt should be won. People of these area do not rely on govt because they don’t trust the govt.

Youngsters of these regions who are now  excelling in nearly every field will in a few decades be at a very good position largely due to the literacy rate there, talk about not being part of Pakistan. The govt should realize the potential of these graduates, quotas for GB should be increased in every level. GB should have a say in important matters particularly in matters comprising of their future.

If a road is to be built and particularly one with infrastructure, then it should be built along the lines of what people of these regions have to say.

What has gone positive for the people of GB is that the KKH will be rebuilt and reconstructed, in the name of the CPEC project,after so many years and particularly after suffering from so many landslides and road blackades.

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Pamir Times

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Pamir Times is the pioneering community news and views portal of Gilgit – Baltistan, Kohistan, Chitral and the surrounding mountain areas. It is a voluntary, not-for-profit, non-partisan and independent venture initiated by the youth.