Raja launches projects to restore Karakorum Highway

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf

HUNZA: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Friday launched two landmark multi-million dollar strategic projects at the Karakorum Highway (KKH), aimed at restoring the historic road linkage with China that was severed due to the artificial Attabad Lake created as a result of landslides.

The Prime Minister performed the ground-breaking of realignment of a 17-km long section of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). He also inaugurated the 510.42 million dollars upgradation of a 335 km long section of the road from Raikot to Khunjerab that has now been widened and meets international standards of construction.Prime Minister, who earlier had an aerial view of the Attabad lake, the upgraded road and the proposed road alignment site, said that the new roads were part of an effort of the government to provide the people of remote areas a fast and easy linkage with the rest of the country. He said that the road would not only ease travel, but also help provide all facilities of life.

He said it would further deepen the strong ties between Pakistan and China. Raja said that road links were known to bring progress and prosperity to the areas they touch and hoped that a new era of development would usher in.He said that road links were a priority of the government and recalled his meeting with Chinese leaders during his recent visit to China where the KKH’s upgradation and re-alignment were discussed. He appreciated and thanked the Chinese government for keeping its promise of despatching the required heavy machinery for completion of the project.

Adding a new terminology relating to Pak-China friendship, he said that apart from being taller than mountains and deeper than oceans, it was also sweeter than honey.Prime Minister said that despite the several challenges the country was facing, the nation should stand united and continue to strive for stronger democratic traditions.He said that the tendency of pursuing negative thoughts needed to be done away with. Only with greater understanding and love, we can hope to achieve progress, he added.He said that Pakistan ranked top for rendering innumerable sacrifices in the fight against terrorism as it had lost precious lives of civilians and law- enforcement agencies personnel.

He said that the country also faced the challenges of global recession and economic issues, but expressed the resolve that it would rise above all such issues.The Prime Minister, who was here on his first visit to the scenic Gilgit-Baltistan, was briefed by the Chairman of NHA about the KKH project.He said that Pakistan’s Northern Areas were a treasure trove for those, who yearn for natural beauty and a must-go for tourists from any part of the world. He said that all measures would be taken to enhance facilities to the tourists from within the country and abroad.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the government of Gilgit-Baltistan was striving hard to serve the masses, despite several challenges it was facing. Raja Ashraf was also presented a traditional cap and gown, as a large number of workers of PPP raised party slogans.Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister for Communication Arbab Alamgir, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Pir Karam Ali Shah, Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah and Zhe Wang Le, Chinese Commercial Councillor, were present during the event.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, while expressing the government’s commitment to socio-economic development of Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday, announced a Rs 2 billion grant to address the financial problems of the region.Addressing the first joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Council and Legislative Assembly here, he also directed the Ministry of Finance to immediately release the amount. He said that with improvement in the financial position of the Federal Government, more resources would be provided to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, Federal Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Manzoor Wattoo, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Secretary General Pakistan People’s Party Senator Jehangir Badr and senior officials were also present on the occasion.The Prime Minister assured them complete cooperation of the Federal Government and said he was fully familiar with the administrative and financial difficulties of Gilgit-Baltistan.He said that he was informed of the difficulties faced by the GB government in its efforts to improve administrative affairs and rehabilitate the flood affectees of 2010.”

As you are aware that despite world recession and difficulties faced by the national economy, the Federal Government is providing financial assistance for the rehabilitation of flood affectees in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.”He said that unfortunately Gilgit-Baltistan was not safe from extremism and terrorism, as such incidents occurred here from time to time.The elements involved in sectarian prejudice and extremism are taking advantage of the situation and are tarnishing the peaceful and secure environment for their nefarious designs, he added.The Prime Minister said that Frontier Constabulary, Gilgit Baltistan Scouts and police were deployed on the Karakorum Highway for the protection of passengers and they were being provided all necessary facilities. – Nation