Gilgit-Baltistan: KPK Proposed Route to Tajikistan- The Safest?

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Gilgit (ET): In what appears to be yet another blow to the already precarious ties between the adjoining regions, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has successfully undertaken an extensive feasibility survey of the proposed route linking Pakistan to Tajikistan — originally meant for Gilgit-Baltistan.

The route was earlier proposed to be built from G-B’s Ashkomen Valley to Tajikistan during former president Pervez Musharraf’s regime. However, the federal government – after President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Tajikistan in September – altered the original plan and announced that Pakistan would be linked to Tajikistan via Chitral (K-P) — the decision has drawn strong criticism from the political leadership of G-B. Leaders in Gilgit believe it was a discriminatory ploy against the region. “A survey of the Tajikistan Road from Chitral to the Afghan border has been completed and according to the results of the survey, the Lotkoh valley of Chitral has been declared as the most feasible, suitable and safest place for the proposed project,” K-P Minister for Population Welfare Saleem Khan was quoted as saying in Chitral.

K-P and G-B are already at loggerheads on two fronts – the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Shandur area – since both the regions blame each other for encroaching. In Gilgit, a senior legislator said that K-P was taking undue benefit of its presence in parliament. “This isn’t the first instance that K-P has tried to rob G-B of its rights,” he said.

Experts believe that as G-B struggles to protect the Diamer-Bhasha Dam from K-P’s encroachment, the Tajikistan project is also slipping away from its hands.

They are of the view that the government should adhere to the original plan in which the route had to originate from the Ashkoman Valley in District Ghizer to Tajikistan.

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