Chinese and Pakistani officials in a ceremony on Thursday laid the foundation stone of a four-decades-old Chinese cemetery located in Gilgit that is to be renovated.
Locally known as “China Yadgar”, the cemetery, which is the final resting place of Chinese workers who lost their lives nearly 40 years ago during construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), is located in Danyor, nearly 10 kilometres across Gilgit River.
At a ceremony held in the cemetery, the Consular of the Chinese Embassy, Zhang Lianyou, and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig laid foundation stones for a new cemetery which the Chinese officials claimed would be a place worth visiting and at par with the sacrifice made by their workers. Both officials also laid floral wreaths on the graves. Following the ceremony, the Chinese and Pakistani officials swept the memorial park as tribute to those buried there.
The cost of renovation is to be borne by the Chinese government.
“We are proud of the eternal friendship between Pakistan and China,” said Baig, while addressing the ceremony. The event was attended by officials of the China Road and Bridge Corporation, members of the G-B Assembly, and law enforcement personnel.
Baig lauded China’s role in continuing to develop Pakistan, adding that before the construction of the KKH, the landlocked G-B province was cut off from the rest of the world. “It serves as a bridge between the people of the two countries.”
Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, Chinese Overseas Association Secretary General in G-B Abdur Rehman Bukhari appreciated the gesture made by both nations to pay homage to the Chinese workers. “These labourers and engineers laid down their lives for Pak-China friendship. We value their sacrifice.”
The construction of the KKH was carried out between 1966 and 1977. Approximately 5,000 people died in its construction.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2013.