by Sher Ali
The world’s highest paved international road, Karakoram Highway, was built in eight years by experts from China and the Frontier Works Organization of Pakistan. The state-of-art highway connected dwellers of the highest range of mountains to rest of the world. The incredible feat of engineering strengthened the Pakistan-China friendship and attracted tourists from around the world until a few years back.
Over the years the highway became a victim of neglect and lost its beauty with craters developed at many places due to land-sliding and rains, while the FWO and the National Highway Authority blame each other for the absence of maintenance works. At present it takes 30 hours from Gilgit to reach Rawalpindi due to bad condition of the road. Even worse are the conditions of road sections from Thakot Bridge to Chilas.
While nepotism and corruption govern departments in Islamabad, none of those at the helm is ready to look into the issue apparently because the worst sufferers are the helpless natives. Islamabad governs the Northern Areas through a puppet chief secretary who fears those who appointed him and keeps mum over the issue. Also, it is useless to expect from a PCO – Judge, the supreme dispenser of justice, himself a traitor of judiciary, to take suo motu action in this regard.
As far as area representatives are concerned, they appear weak in courage to effectively raise the issue to get it resolved. The other day I spoke to Amir Muqam, an MNA from the Pakistan Muslim League, who was elected from NA-31 Shangla district. Besham also falls under the district jurisdiction of Shangla. When asked whether he was aware of the pathetic condition of the highway, he replied in affirmative and claimed he raised the issue twice in vain in the national assembly. While the highway of international importance is on the verge of collapse, perhaps for the ‘rubber stamp’ parliament it is no more an issue of ‘our national interest’.
Before the highway is vanished from the map of Pakistan, it’s high time to wake up the area representatives and bureaucrats from their deep slumber. We have to make all-out efforts to raise this issue at all forums. Maybe the military bosses, who also have distanced themselves from the issue for reasons best known to them, may take its notice and make the FWO to carry out the necessary repairs.
China has agreed to upgrade the highway from Khunz`hrav to Raikot Bridge as a gift to the people of Pakistan. But from Raikot to Chatter plain, the highway is impassable and no authority is ready to takes its notice.
I urge the honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice against those at the helm showing criminal negligence in this regard, putting thousands of lives at risk.
The writer works for Geo News.