I AM writing this letter to highlight a pivotal issue which the dwellers and local businessmen of Gilgit-Baltistan have been facing since January 2010 due to the forming of artificial Attabad Lake at Hunza Nagar.
The people living upstream remained cut off from the rest of the district for several months, but the local businessmen provided them relief by starting a ferry service. Patients, students and other affected people were transported free of cost.
The 19-km-long Karakoram Highway, the sole overland connection between China and Pakistan, was submerged. Due to this catastrophe, the cross-border trade between the two countries has been badly affected.
Local businesses have been ruined, while the business community has become bankrupt and suppressed under huge loans. The Sost Dry Port (SDP) which used to generate income from taxes, custom duties and other charges is now on the verge of obliteration. The SDP has incurred a loss worth billions of rupees and it is a great national loss.
The federal and provincial governments are showing reluctance to drain the lake and realign the Karakoram Highway. A huge amount was spent extravagantly on the Frontier Works Organisation to lower the lake’s surface and restore the Karakoram Highway, but, so far, it has failed to do so as it has neither modern machinery nor technical expertise to tackle the issue.
The Chinese government had offered to solve the problem within a short span of time but our government didn’t bother to give the contract to Chinese companies.
I request the authorities concerned on behalf of the Gilgit-Baltistan Importers and Exporters Association to resolve the problem as soon as possible.
MUHAMMAD ALI President, Gilgit-Baltistan Importers & Exporters Association Gilgit