By Naveed Toshee
The road to Chipurson valley is similar to the Kashmir dispute in some ways. For one, both issues are unresolved since the Britishers left the country. Second, there are ‘contractors’, of kind, benefiting from both tales of misery. In the case of Chipursan Valley road, politicians have been bagging votes with the promise of resolving the road issue once and for all, while on the other hand government contractors and officials have made millions in the name of repairs, re-repairs and then re-re-repairs!
This year, there was a token twist in the story. The locals wouldn’t take politicians for their words; they announced boycott of the recently held election, as part of a “No Road, No Vote” campaign. The boycott was successful in the sense that it allowed the locals to raise their concerns and demands at the highest political and administrative levels.
The grand action committee that spearheaded the boycott, met Maryum Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto and Saifullah Khan Niazi, representing PMLN, PPP and PTI, and told them about the need for resolving the access issue. Their demands included widening and metaling of the 72km long road, and replacing of wooden bridges with concrete bridges.
Social media was used very effectively by supporters of the campaign, forcing political leaders of all hues and weights to rush to the valley to express solidarity with the people.
Under pressure, the local administration started work on patches of the road, with the promise of completing the project by the second week of December 2020.
On December 15, the Deputy Commissioner of Hunza was supposed to inaugurate the road. All seem to have been set for a grand ‘opening’ with the hope, of course, of winning some space in the press.
To the dismay of all, a day before the inauguration, a portion of the road gave in, as expected by many in the region in advance. A retaining wall constructed recently fell down, cutting down the road to Chipursan Valley, and shortening the jubilation of the district administration. Locals are now calling for an investigation into the work and punishment for the contractor and the engineers, and those who awarded this contract to them.
The people of Chipurson valley, which borders with Afghanistan, feel that they are constantly being let down and fraudsters are profiting off their misery.
When will this culture of naked corruption and ineptness stop in our society? When will the steps towards real progress be taken?