LOWER DIR: The opposition parties and civil society activists from Lower and Upper Dir, Chitral and Bajaur districts have announced to launch an agitation campaign to resist the government plan to drop the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway project.

The issue has gained significance since the government allocated funds for the Chakdara-Swat Motorway in the current year’s PSDP.

The opposition parties and social activists, including lawyers and traders, are not satisfied with the announcements made by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and federal minister for communications Murad Saeed that work on widening and improvement of Chakdara-Chitral Road would be started from March next year.

Social and political activists, especially the youth belonging to different parties including the ruling PTI, have taken to social media platforms, calling for the government not to shelve the key project.

After the outcry on social media, parties like JI, PPP, PML-N, ANP and QWP held separate press conferences and protest demonstrations, demanding inclusion of the project in CPEC.

“We are not against construction of the Swat motorway but not at the cost of the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway,” JI parliamentary leader in the KP Assembly Inayatullah had told a presser in Timergara some days ago. He said the people of Dir, Chitral and Bajaur were demanding equal opportunities of development.

Similarly, the lawyers and traders have also warned the government of protests if steps were not taken by the federal and the provincial governments regarding resolution of public grievances on the issue.

Speakers at a meeting of the legal fraternity held recently here noted that the road project was included in the 2017-18 PSDP, but the incumbent government later shelved it. They said construction of the road would connect the country to the central Asian states, besides boosting tourism in the poverty-stricken districts of Malakand division.

The traders’ bodies in Timergara, Chakdara, Talash, Khall and Munda have also announced to support political parties and civil society on the issue.

The traders’ community has warned the federal government against dropping the project.

Talking to Dawn, president Anjuman-i-Tajaran Timergara Haji Anwaruddin, general secretary Liaq Zada, Haji Abdul Rashid and others said former prime minister Nawaz Sahrif, during a visit to Upper Dir, had announced to include the Chakdara-Chitral Expressway in the CPEC.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2020

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