This was decided during a meeting between President Asif Zardari and army chief General Ashfaq Pervaz Kayani last week at the President House. The two discussed the 24km of Karakoram Highway which was submerged in the Attabad disaster.
The blockade has not only caused serious problems for locals, but also had badly disturbed trade between Pakistan and China for the last one and a half years.
After assessing the situation, the committee, which is also headed by General Kayani, will decide whether to award the tender to drain out water to Frontier Work Organization (FWO) or a foreign firm, particularly Chinese firms as the Chinese government has already expressed its willingness to execute the project.
Locals have already demanded that the federal government award the tender to a foreign firm as FWO has failed to excavate spillways to drain out water as it could not construct even a 10-foot long spillway during the last one and half year.
Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig, who is also the elected member from the same constituency, recently wrote a letter to the prime minister, requesting him to immediately devise a water drainage plan, preferably giving the tender to a foreign firm. He said the Chinese government is interested in working on the lake and could complete the job in quickly as it has required equipment and capacity to do so.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council recently approved Rs24 billion for draining the artificial lake and rebuilding the damaged road. The final approval of funds will be given by the Central Working Party in its next sitting. The funds will be used for roadwork including a 6km tunnel and a 100 foot deep spillway to release water.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2011.