PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has asked the federal government to include alternative land routes and a railway track in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to absorb the increased traffic following the multibillion dollar project’s operationalization.
A KP government letter addressed to the CPEC project director said the route controversy surrounding the CPEC is a major issue between KP and the centre.
The government said as both sides have held several meetings to resolve their difference but it was evident that once the CPEC was operational, traffic from Khunjrab and Gawadar would increase manifold and it would require various alternate routes to ensure regular and smooth flow of traffic.
“The KP government recommends alternative additional routes for CPEC western alignment passing through northern parts of province starting right from the Gilgit,” it read.
The letter added that the proposed routes not only referred to routes down to Gwadar but also encompassed multiple options upward Burhan.
“First of the three proposed routes will start at Gilgit and pass through Shandur, Chitral, Chakdara, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta to reach Gwadar,” it said.
The letter added that while the second option of road would branch from Karakorum Highway at Bisham area of Shangla and pass through Khawazala area of Swat, Chakdarra, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta to reach Gwadar, the third option led to Buner district from Shangla district and then proceeded via Swabi, Mardan, Peshawar, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Quetta to reach Gwadar.
It said the first proposed route would act as alternative both to the Karakorum Highway and access to Central Asian Republics via Afghanistan.
“In addition, these routes will also open several passages to Afghanistan in Dir, Bajaur and Chitral besides providing round the clock all weather option to the Karakorum Highway, which closes about three times a year due to heavy snowfall and recurring landslides.”
The government proposed the setting up of an alternate railway track connecting Gilgit with Shangla and Dargai via Shandur top in Chitral.
It said the railway track would provide facility of uninterrupted communication with China in case of land sliding and other natural hazards on the Karakorum Highway besides opening vistas of opportunities for Afghan trade and Central Asian trade zones.
It said the Khunjerab Railway line, running parallel to Karakorum Highway and connecting Havelian to Khunjerab pass was technically weak and the proposed track would be connected to the existing railway track in Dargai and move onwards to Zhob and Gwadar.
Some missing track between Tank and Zhob would need to be laid down, it added.
“The project seems technically viable. The federal government should conduct a formal study on it,” the government said.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2016