The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Gilgit-Chitral Road be renamed and upgraded.
Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed chaired the first day of the assembly session in the absence of Speaker Wazir Baig. The resolution demanded renaming the Gilgit-Chitral Road as ‘Hindukush Highway,’ which connects G-B’s Ghizer valley with Chitral in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa via the Shandur Pass.
“The thoroughfare is very crucial for the local economy, particularly when the Karakoram Highway (KKH) is closed,” Ayub Shah, a lawmaker from Ghizer valley, read from the text of the resolution during the session. The 300-kilometer road remains blocked during the winter due to snow.
Shandur is halfway between G-B and Chitral and is famous for the Shandur Polo festival that takes place every year. “Passengers get stuck in G-B when the KKH is closed for whatever reason,” said Shah, referring to the KKH’s recent suspension due to security concerns following the Rawalpindi riots which claimed 13 lives. KKH remained inaccessible to commuters for two weeks, leaving thousands of people stranded in G-B.
The resolution also urged the task to upgrade and make the road suitable for all weather conditions should be assigned to the National Highway Authority (NHA).
Earlier during the assembly session, lawmakers discussed the performance of the G-B government over the last four years and termed it ‘an opportunity lost.’
“This government has lost four precious years without doing anything except corruption,” alleged Nawaz Khan Naji, a nationalist leader. “Not even a single development project has been completed in my constituency over the four years.”
Amina Ansari of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid sought details of the funds allocated for flood-affected areas in 2010. “Where is the money allocated for damages caused by the 2010 floods?” she questioned.
Mirza Hussain of the same party dubbed the government’s performance “utterly shameful”, claiming it “failed to deliver.”
Minister for Local Government Muhammad Ismail told the house work on computerising voter lists “was in its final stages and elections for local bodies should be held in March next year.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2013.