ISLAMABAD, July 21 (APP): A high level emergency meeting in the Presidency on Wednesday night considered options available to rehabilitate the Ata Abad Lake in Gilgit-Baltistan and restore the damaged portion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The meeting, presided over by President Asif Ali Zardari, decided to resort to controlled blasting to lower the water level in the lake for undertaking the necessary rehabilitation works and restoration of normal life in the affected areas.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Mehdi Shah, Chief Secretary GB, Babar Yaqub, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Nadeem ul Haq, the Chairman NDMA, Secretary General to the President, Salman Farouqui, Secretary to President, Malik Asif Hayat, Secretary Communication Sharif Ahmad, spokesperson Farhatullah Babar, Director Genral Frontier Works Organization Major General Njibullah Khan and Lt General ® Shahid Niaz Member Planning Commission and heads of technical departments.
Briefing the media about the meeting Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that it was also decided to start a large and fast speed ferry service capable of ferrying big machines and merchandise so as to restore the normal life on the one hand and to facilitate the rehabilitation works on the other.
It was also decided to undertake feasibility study for building by-pass as a permanent solution to the problem of landslides in the future. The feasibility study for by-pass will be undertaken by the NHA, he said.
The decisions on Wednesday were a follow up of the President’s visit to China early this month in which the President also raised with the Chinese political leaders at the highest level the issue and sought Chinese assistance in this regard.
The President in his meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had emphasized urgent rehabilitation measures commensurate with the seriousness the two countries attached to the connectivity projects between them, he said.
Farhatullah Babar said that following the President’s visit the Chinese government on Tuesday offered that its experts and companies would be prepared to help the government of Pakistan in undertaking the rehabilitation works and asked Islamabad to decide on the options available.
The two options that the Pakistani authorities had been debating were; one to make a bypass and two, to lower the level of the water to 30 meters, he said.
The late night Wednesday meeting decided to exercise the option of lowering the water level and undertake rehabilitation works with the assistance of Chinese immediately and at the same time to undertake feasibility study for a by-pass, he said.
Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah endorsing the decisions taken thanked President Zardari and the government of Pakistan for its efforts in addressing the issue on a permanent basis.
The Prime Minister who was also present in the meeting scheduled a meeting with the chief minister of GB on Thursday to discuss further relief measures and the financial support needed for it.
Lt. Gen. (r) Shahid Nadeem former Engineer in Chief Pakistan Army and currently Member Planning Commission will be coordinator of the project that will be overseen by Secretary Communications, he said.
The Chinese government has also offered to provide relief goods to those affected people of the landslide who are not easily accessible from the Pakistan side.
President Zardari also thanked the Chinese offer of assistance and said that the offer demonstrated yet again the deep strategic ties between the two countries, the spokesperson said.