The KKH — a pain to travel on

HUNZA: The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is a strategic road for Pakistan. It is used by national as well as international traffic since it provides for a land border between Pakistan and China. And for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, it provides a crucial land link to the rest of the country.

However, in recent years, it has suffered considerably from the elements. And while this is only to be expected, given the harsh terrain and unpredictable weather of the regions it traverses, what is worrying is that those in charge of its maintenance do not seem to be doing their job.

The highway is badly damaged in some places and the result is that while previously it would take between 15-16 hours to travel from Islamabad to Gilgit by bus, now it takes well above 20. Moreover, a large stretch of the highway between central Hunza and Upper Hunza remains blocked for the last 20 months because of the massive landslide at Attabad.

Because of this, people are suffering economically and even health wise, due to a shortage of medicines or because they cannot easily reach a hospital. Once travelling on the KKH was considered a thing not to miss out on, but now it is a positively painful experience. Of course, this cannot be good for one of the regional economy’s mainstays: Tourism.

Muhammad Ali

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th,  2011

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  1. The new strategy of the present government is to keep this road blocked for as long as possible. People who have most recently used this road for travelling may have noticed that no effort is being made to maintain this once strategic road open and operational. If things will remain in the hands of the present regime, it may remain only in the memories of people.

  2. The condition of the KKH is very sad and scandulous in many ways. As a tourist this road surely is a “wonder”. My first experience of the KKH was riding my bicycle from Kashgar down the Kunjerab Pass to Gilgit in 2007. I would not have missed this journey for the world. It and the wonderful people that I met along the way made such an impression on me that I have been back to Pakistan once or twice a year ever since. Unfortunately I have to say that now I no longer look forward to travelling along the KKH – the scenery obviously is still just as magnificent & awe inspiring but the road itself is either in such a bad state, blocked or being “worked on” that I prefer to go up the Kaghan Valley, across the Babusar & only join the KKH at Chilas for the last stretch……..When will the powers that be in Pakistan learn to pay tribute to the wonderful resources thay have at their disposal & properly encourage tourism and empower the local people of Gilgit Baltistan?!

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