HUNZA: The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is a strategic road for Pakistan. It is used by national as well as international traffic since it provides for a land border between Pakistan and China. And for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, it provides a crucial land link to the rest of the country.
However, in recent years, it has suffered considerably from the elements. And while this is only to be expected, given the harsh terrain and unpredictable weather of the regions it traverses, what is worrying is that those in charge of its maintenance do not seem to be doing their job.
The highway is badly damaged in some places and the result is that while previously it would take between 15-16 hours to travel from Islamabad to Gilgit by bus, now it takes well above 20. Moreover, a large stretch of the highway between central Hunza and Upper Hunza remains blocked for the last 20 months because of the massive landslide at Attabad.
Because of this, people are suffering economically and even health wise, due to a shortage of medicines or because they cannot easily reach a hospital. Once travelling on the KKH was considered a thing not to miss out on, but now it is a positively painful experience. Of course, this cannot be good for one of the regional economy’s mainstays: Tourism.
By Muhammad Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.