GILGIT: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could not only address Pakistan’s energy shortfall but prove to be a fortune changer for the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The CPEC is a collection of projects presently being implemented at a cost of $46 billion to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and China.
The Corridor passing through Gilgit-Baltistan in the north to reach the Gwadar port in the south of the country will transform the economy and help bridge Pakistan’s power shortfall.
In his recent visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of a fiber optic project which is part of CPEC.
The project will be completed in two years at the cost of Rs 4.4 billion. It will lay an The 820-kilometer long cable from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab will provide an alternative telecommunication route between Pakistan and China after completion.
As a result, people of GB will be the core beneficiary of this project because the region is still deprived of 3G and 4G and other modern telecommunication facilities.
Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjees Tahir has said that CPEC would bring prosperity in the country, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).
During a meeting with a delegation of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)from GB, the Minister said, the Corridor would be proved as a milestone in the history. The minister said that this project would also promote the tourism in GB, which would ultimately in the favour of local public.
He said that the Pak-Army troops would be deployed to make Karakorum Highway safe for the travellers.
Speaker, Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, Fida Muhammad Nashad while talking to APP said, “The CPEC, will boost tourism to the 73,000 sq kilometers region, which is called a paradise for mountaineers and is home to five of the `eight-thousanders'(peaks above 8,000 meters) as well as more than 50 mountains over 7,000 meters besides being home to the world’s second highest peak K-2 and the Nanga Parbat.
With the CPEC passing through GB, Afzal a local businessman hoped, the route would open business opportunities for people of the region.
He said that CPEC would be a game-changer for the region because establishment of one or two economic zones in the region will surely boost job and business opportunity for local educated youth and businessmen.
Exporting fruits to China would be more profitable, Afzal said,”We can double our sales, earn more profits if we can sell our commodities to China where cherries are very popular,” he said.
“We export our products to Dubai by air, but it would be faster and cheaper if we could send it by road to China via Xinjiang as people of Gilgit-Baltistan can get a one-year border pass to travel to China.”
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Gilgit-Baltistan is the producer of over 100,000 metric tons of fresh apricots annually.
Abdul Manan, who owned a farm house and export fresh and dried fruits to Middle East, estimates that Gilgit-Baltistan is a producer of 4,000 tons of cherries and up to 20,000 tons of apples.
Development consultant Javaid Akbar, who also belongs to the area, said, “CPEC,will surely bring development, prosperity, business opportunities as far as the people of the region are concerned.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice of GB legislative Assembly Aurang Zaib Khan said,”The Diamer-Bhasha dam, which is located in Gilgit-Baltistan, once completed, it would generate 4,500 MW of electricity.
“People of Gilgit-baltistan are facing shortage of electricity now-a-days, and completion of Diamer Bhashah will surely minimize the power loadsheding in the region.