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ISLAMABAD: Despite security threats and natural disasters, (work on) the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will continue to link Pakistan with China and allow smooth exchange of goods between the two countries, said a Chinese entrepreneur on Saturday.

Talking to reporters here, Exim’s managing director Tianru Tang cited two major concerns in the construction and maintenance of the Karakorum Highway (KKH) and Khunjerab Pass — geological disasters and adverse security conditions.

Since the highway was located in Gilgit-Baltistan, which was a frequent target of sectarian and terrorist attacks, the construction process was hampered, said Mr Tianru, adding that security situation also risked safety of Chinese personnel.

He lauded the police and security forces for playing their role in maintaining peace in the region.

The key impediment in development, however, was natural disasters, said Mr Tianru.

The KKH is the world’s highest cross-boundary road, with bridges over Khunjerab Hunza, Gilgit and Indus rivers, which stretches through the Karakorum, Hindukush and Pamir mountains and the western end of Himalayas.

“This [KKH] area is known as the geological disaster museum owing to frequent natural disasters,” Mr Tianru said.

While the CPEC is a new project, he pointed out, the Chinese commenced infrastructure development in Pakistan in 1966, and since then numerous projects have been initiated by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) — the builder of the CPEC. The CRBC is involved in various infrastructure development projects in Pakistan, including the KKH Phase II (Havelian-Thakot) project, which is a key initiative of the One Belt, One Road strategy.

The completion of the project is expected to enhance traffic flow in the northern region and promote economic development in remote areas of the country.

Mr Tianru said that the CRBC employed up to 7,815 locals and purchased main construction materials worth $416 million from local firms.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2017