GILGIT, Sept 28: On his first official visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf launched on Friday two multi-million-dollar projects involving realignment and upgradation of the Karakoram Highway.

The two projects are aimed at restoring the historic road link with China which was cut off after a devastating landslide that blocked the Hunza river at Attabad.

The prime minister performed the ground-breaking of the realignment of a 22-km section of the highway. He also inaugurated the $510 million upgradation of a 110-km portion of the road from Raikot to Khunjerab.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ashraf said the new roads were part of an effort to provide the people of remote areas with a fast and easy link with the rest of the country.

The prime minister reached Gilgit in a special aircraft.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Kashmir Affairs Minister Mian Manzoor Wattoo were with him.

He was welcomed by Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah and federal Communications Minister Arbab Alamgir Khan.

Strict security measures were taken at the airport and in the city for his visit.

Addressing a joint session of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly and the GB Council, the prime minister announced Rs2 billion for the development of the region.

He also announced an increase in the number of PIA flights between Gilgit and Islamabad and said travel on the Karakoram highway would be made safe.

He said the government had taken appropriate security measures to ensure that travel on the KKH remained safe because the terrorists wanted to disrupt peace in the region.

He urged the GB government to make policies conducive for tourism promotion and said the region was bestowed with immense natural resources.

Balawaristan National Front chief Nawaz Khan Naji boycotted the session when the prime minister came to address the session.

The opposition leader raised objection that the money was meagre and not enough to meet the requirement of the region.

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