LOWER DIR: Political parties, civil society organisations and youth on Monday threatened to come onto the roads if the government further delayed the construction of Chakdara-Chitral Expressway.

Speaking at a news conference at Chakdara, PPP former lawmakers Mehmood Zeb Khan, Bakht Baidar Khan and Alam Zeb Advocate announced to launch an agitation drive against the government if the Chakdara-Chitral route was not included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

They alleged that approved projects in Dir were being shifted to other districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The former lawmakers also condemned the elected representatives from Dir and Bajaur for their ‘criminal’ silence on the issue.

The PPP leaders said Rs51 billion were approved for the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway during the PML-N government as part of the CPEC, but the PTI-led government had reportdly dropped the project from CPEC.

PPP accuses govt of shifting projects to other districts

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami parliamentary leader in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, Inayatullah told Dawn on phone that Chakdara-Chitral Expressway could play major role in exploiting the tourism potential of Dir and Chitral districts.

He said the route was included in the CPEC but the incumbent government wanted to exclude it.

Mr Inayatullah said he would raise the issue on the assembly floor.

Also, the Dir Qaumi Pasoon (DQP), a body of elders, also announced to march on Islamabad if the Chakdara-Chitral route was excluded from the CPEC.

Talking to reporters, DQP chief Jehan Alam said a multiparty conference would be convened soon in order to prepare a future line of action.

Meanwhile, PTI activists Ali Shah Mishwani, Shafiullah Khan Utmankhel, Zakirullah and others demanded of the party lawmakers to take serious notice of the issue as charged workers in Dir, Chitral and Bajaur would have no option other than to stage a sit-in at Banigala for getting the project approved by the government.

The charged public sentiment prompted the PTI lawmakers, including MNA Syed Mehboob Shah, to hold a meeting with federal minister Murad Saeed in Islamabad on Monday to cool down the situation, said a social activist.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, during a visit to Lower Dir on August 11 last year, had announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan would lay the foundation stone of the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway under the CPEC.

MNA Syed Mehboob Shah, on Jan 25, had also announced the government had approved Rs17.5 billion for construction of the Chakdara-Chitral route.

SCHOOLS REOPENING SOUGHT: Different students’ organisations on Monday extended support to the decision of the Private Education Network to reopen schools and colleges from August 4.

The announcement was made during a joint meeting of PEN and students’ bodies.

The participants termed closure of educational institutions for over four months a great loss to the nation and the new generation.

They said the government should immediately reopen all educational institutions under the SOPs to save precious time of students.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2020

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