Expansion work on Karakuram Highway Inaugrated


ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday said that the extensive project of Karakoram Highway would boost the trade and tourism with Middle East and China. Addressing a foundation laying ceremony of the expansion of Karakoram highway here at Convention Centre, he said “ communication infrastructure was a pre-requisite for economic development of the country and said that in view of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location these need to be optimised to help the country serve as a true hub for trade and communication. The President said, the expansion and upgradation of 335km of road from Raikot to Khunjerab will complete by 2011. The project will improve the grades, construct snow galleries, improve 27 bridges, add 480m long tunnels, 18 open cut tunnels (1975 m), besides constructing 1050 culverts, 5 aqueducts and retaining walls. He recalled his meeting with President Hu Jintao in which he had proposed to add a rail link, an oil pipeline and fibre optic cable to the KKH to make it the ninth wonder of the world. He said the Karakoram Highway, built along the historic Silk Route, will serve as a trade corridor not only with China, but also through it to the Central Asian Republics, while providing it access to the Arabian Sea. “The project will reaffirm the long-term, broad-based friendship between the two countries and serve as another landmark of Sino-Pak relationship,” President Musharraf said. He said China was cooperating with Pakistan in several areas, including defence, communication, education, infrastructure development besides enjoying deep political, diplomatic and people to people contacts. He said the Free Trade Agreement with China has increased the potential of trade between the two countries and both their people will benefit from it. President Pervez Musharraf said under the Vision 2030 the National Trade Corridor improvement Programme several communication projects will complete in the next seven years.

He said deepening of Karachi Port at a cost of Rs 1.2 billion dollars will allow the future mother container ships to dock at the port and will be one of the few ports of the world. The President said the country’s north-south road linkages were being improved, while there was a need to improve the east-west linkages. He said in 2008 the focus will be on creating, improving and upgrading road links with Afghanistan, Iran, India and China. He pointed at the projects aimed at improving the sea ports, airports and railways. President Pervez Musharraf said several Chinese companies were investing in Pakistan and pointed that China Mobile, which has already invested US $ 500 million in the country, was investing another US $ 800 million. The President earlier unveiled the plaque to launch the project. Caretaker Minister for Communication Barrister Habibur Rehman hoped the project will go a long way in bringing the two countries closer and strengthening their bonds.

Bulbul’s Painting

Nazir Ahmad Bulbul’s expression of the KKH inaugration

Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhao Hui said hundreds of Chinese and their Pakistani brothers laid down their lives during the construction of the strategic road linking the two countries. He said, “We will not allow the Karakoram Highway to be damaged as we will never allow the Sino-Pak friendship to be dented.” He said a stable and prosperous Pakistan was of great importance for China. “We cherish our all weather friendship and all dimensional relationship,” he added. The Ambassador said the ties between the two countries were based on four pillars of economic and defence cooperation, similarity of views on regional and international issues and people to people contacts. He said the two-way trade has surged to US $ 6.5 billion, while the Chinese FDI has gone up to one billion dollars. He mentioned the Gwadar Port, Chashma I and II, engineering university besides exchange of youth delegations. The ambassador said his country was optimistic about Pakistan’s bright future and expressed satisfaction over the progress of their ties.

Chairman National Highway Authority Maj Gen Imtiaz Ahmed said the road will be upgraded to an all-weather link traversing through world’s most difficult terrain. He said the KKH will link with China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan and form an integral artery of National Trade Corridor and component of the Asian Highway Network. He said the carriageway will be widened to 7.3 meters with a gradient of 4 per cent and will be made safe for long and wide-bodied freight carriers. He said all potential land slide areas will be addressed to minimise maintenance while it will be ensured that all structures are safe against seismic activity. The Chairman said the NHA will spend Rs 300 billion on road linkages in next seven years and will soon launch Hasanabdal-Mansehra expressway, improvement fo road from Mansehra to Bhasha Diamer Dam, Thakot bridge and relocation of KKH in the dam area. (Courtesy: GEO)

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  1. This brings new opportunities and risks: The tip of the iceberg of the ‘new great game’. For centuries life in the mountains were influenced by externalities and decisions taken in London, Moscow and Beijing impacted life in the mountains. Only a 100 years back we were the ‘most connected’ region with borders opened in all directions; Xinkiang, Wakhan, Chitral, Kohistan, Taxila, Kashmir, Tibet. With the British colonialism all borders were closed and later with the cold war other borders were closed. With the lifting of the iron curtain and the new great game for Influence in Central Asia and race to reach the warm waters of Gawadar, this transit route, the old silk route is gaining new currency.

    There are opportunities and risks. with increased accesibility and transport of goods, people and ideas, the Northern Areas will gain as we have gained/and or gaining from the construction of KKH. However there are social, environmental, cultural and economic risks associated with this opportunity. We need develop the capacity to anticipate changes, assess risks and put in place mitigation measures to reduce the impact of these risks and challenges.

    Ultimately development interventions should and must improve our lives in the mountains, restore the dignity of the people, give them voice, protect the rights of local people and the ownership rights to their lands and enhance the vitality of nature and natural resources.

    Development must not make a few rich and richer, and the vast majority poor and poorer. if this is the result of mega projects, it will be a disaster for all, rich and poor.

    Amin Beg

  2. It is a step toward the realisation of the long-sighted prediction of the imperial mountaineer Martin Conway in 1894: “… Gilgit must grow to be an important trade centre, and possibly, … a railway junction on the line from India to Kashgar, where the Samarkand branch will turn off!”

    I fully agree with Amin Bhai that development will take place but ‘What will be the impact of such development on the lives of local community’ and ‘ Are we ready to tape these opportunities’

    If we remained unable to prepare our border community for upcoming opportunities and risks then we will loose identity, cultural and environmental heritages, livelihood options in the flood of modern communication and globalisation.

  3. With the shifting of the cultural and socio-economic environment, policies and theoretical thinking about development have been continuously changing over time. Till today, no agreement exists as to what development as a process, as a goal or as an achievement is. Though many approaches towards development exist, Pakistan in particular and the developing countries in general, are still operating in the modernization paradigm, trying to modernize all aspects of life: agricultural production, social structures, culture and physical infrastructure mainly through external intervention. As significant drawbacks of modernization and external intervention have became obvious, we still do not bother to think of an endogenous and/or preservationist approach towards development.
    The rural economy, employment issues and the aims and circumstances of agricultural production in the Northern Area have all changed considerably and these changes could no longer be understood within the old paradigm. Therefore, the youngsters and the ‘educated’ crew have to play a role in trying to explain the current socio-economic changes and draw together various scientific concepts and operate with old and new ideas (i.e. building on local resources and participation, networks, institutions, control….) to scrutinize and counter developmental projects such as the expansion of Karakarum Highway or any other sort. This could be one of the ways to turn risks into opportunities as signified by Amin Baig and Zulfiqar.

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