Ghizer-Tajikistan road project in the doldrums

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday 26 July—–August 1, 2008

By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are wondering why work has not been started on Ghizer-Tajikistan road project despite the fact that the survey and feasibility report on the project had been completed way back in 1993.This is well known that the construction of the road from Ghizer to Tajikistan would be highly profitable and cost-effective. The distance from Ishkoman to Ganjbai in Tajikistan is just 30 km and after completion of the project not only the destiny of Gilgit-Baltistan can be changed but also the economy of Pakistan would have a boost. The volume of the trade between Tajikistan and Pakistan after completion of the road would be much higher than the Pakistan-China trade through the Karakoranm Highway because from the Central Asian state Pakistan can import oil, gas, petroleum product and wheat on cheap rates. Besides, the route would also open up Pakistan to other Central Asian countries which are the richest nations in the world in natural resources. In spite of the vast potential, Pakistan is still hesitant in launching work on the project due to two reasons. The first is that after completion of the Ghizer-Tajikistan road, the volume of trade on the Silk road would reduce which would also affect the export of Chinese products to the international markets. The Ghizer-Tajikistan highway would also end the monopoly of China in the international and Pakistani markets. China always gives priority to nits economic interests and therefore reduction in the trade on the Karakoram Highway would also affect its relations with Islamabad. In this case, Pakistan cannot afford to go for a project which may affect its ties with its longstanding friend.Secondly, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been not friendly since Pakistan came into being. The taking over of Taliban in Afghanistan and their defeat, the occupation of the northern alliance on half of Afghanistan and the post-9/11 events have made Pakistan skeptical about the intrusion of Taliban into Pakistan through the proposed highway. It may bhold ground for some but such an activity in the most sensitive region of Gilgit-Baltistan cvan be suicidal for the whole region.The people of Gilgit-Baltistan consider the project crucial for development of the region as well as Pakistan as a whole and look to the new PPP government to launch the project as soon as possible because in 1993, it was the PPP government which had conceived the project.


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