GILGIT: The lone ranger of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, Raja Jehanzeb, has asked the PTI government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to facilitate travellers passing through the 200-kilometre-long stretch of Karakoram Highway that runs through Kohistan.
“The Kohistan region lacks facilities for passengers and unnecessary checking by police at various check posts and delays caused due to the convoy system make the journey a miserable one,” Jehanzeb told journalists in Gilgit on Thursday.
KKH is the only route that connects G-B with rest of the country. However, the dilapidated highway and the convoy-system cause the 15-hour Gilgit and Rawalpindi journey to stretch for 22 hours.
This is mainly because the convoy system requires 50 to 100 vehicles move in groups from G-B’s Diamer district till Bisham in Shangla, K-P with law-enforcement personnel escorting the convoy between 8am and 4pm. The system was introduced in 2012 after repeated attacks on passenger buses and targeted killings took place.
“The convoy system isn’t passenger friendly. It should be replaced with another system,” said Jehanzeb, who was hopeful the PTI government in K-P would give heed to his request as he is a member of the PTI family in G-B –the only one in a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz dominated assembly. “Imagine the plight of women, children and patients during the journey. We should try to help them.”
He said previously the convoy gathered only at Bisham but now it was also a requirement for Haripur. Jehanzeb said he would take up the issue at PTI’s core committee meeting. “If you go by Babusar Road, then the K-P police harass you there.”
This was not the first time requests were made to ease the journey on the highway. In April, transporters in Gilgit and Kohistan protested against the convoy system, suspending public transport between G-B and the rest of the country for more than a week.
After the protests, the G-B government said it was willing to end the convoy system but could not do so as the K-P government was not willing to cooperate due to security threats to their territory.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.
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