Tariq Rahim Baig
I should neither congratulate on the opening of new tunnel at Attabad area nor should I deny the hardships, that have been faced by the people of upper Hunza, Gojal. We should be thankful to God almighty first then those who in any aspects contributed for the people of the area. What has been done, the hardships faced by the residents is a darker side of contemporary history. People might be delighted to see the improved route on its original shape again. We should be thankful to the Government of China for providing food and fuel to the entire valley for a period of consecutive three years.
Just think for a while, without such assistance, livelihood would have been miser in the post disaster arena. The educated mass of Gojal would have been witnessing struggle for survival. We should also thank all civil society organizations for their support and generosity during the suffering. At last, we should thank the Government or individuals who at different level played their role.
In the spotlight of past experiences ,the circumstance and control of life went beyond expectations. Economically, the life of people was miserable. Prices of each commodity raised due to heavy transportation costs. Purchasing power declined due to extreme rise in commodity prices. Agricultural products which were the only means of earnings for the people were badly affected. People were unable to afford the educational expenses of their children. GB government had granted static amount for the fee exemption of the students but, according to sources due to irregularities, those entitled were exempted from the list. There were also irregularities in the relief commodities in huge, none of them were made accountable for that. Those involved are now spending luxurious lives with their families and the actual needy could not move ahead. Our social values were also affected i.e several youths were convicted in fake FIRs for demanding their rights from Government and many of them are still suffering in Jails. Two precious lives were lost in Aliabad incident in a brutal killing by security forces, which are considered the first ever murder in the history of Hunza valley.Today the culprits have been promoted at higher ranks and given incentives from government’s treasury. So many hardships were faced by the inhabitants of the valley which were bitter experiences of life and now finally the worst chapter of history seems to turn over.
Now that the realignment phase of KKH on Attabad Lake has almost been completed and recently inaugurated by Prime minister of Pakistan , Nawaz Shareef. It is a milestone towards the economic development of the area as corridor is making its way through the region. Undoubtedly,this mainstream will lead the area towards its economic development. We will have to capture better opportunities like partnerships in business of the youths. Tourism will be one of the golden opportunity for the people of the area for better sustainability. According to sources, the Lake so formed is going to be a made an attractive tourist spot where there is chance of high influx of tourists into the area from downstream and China. New opportunities in agricultural technologies are in abundant seeking manpower. There are now entrepreneurship opportunities on the route site for enterprise development and livelihood enhancement.
The door towards economic development is now open for every individual of the area. We should look straight forward to the economic opportunities in the area. We need to mainstream the opportunities for better utilization of resources. I would urge Government and local institutions to play their roles in youth development towards a sustainable economy. Resources are in abundant but those need manpower to get into final shape.
Tariq Rahim Baig is a freelancer writer and social critic who has continuously been following Attabad disaster since it occurred. He can be contacted at :firstname.lastname@example.org