By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: The travel woes of passengers will come to an end as the Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments agreed to do away with the infamous convoy system on the Karakoram Highway. The system requires 50 to 100 vehicles to move in groups from G-B’s Diamer district till Besham in Shangla while being escorted by K-P law-enforcement agencies.
The decision to end the painful system, which has existed since 2012, was taken at a two-day apex committee meeting of G-B and K-P officials in Peshawar. Chief ministers of both the regions and K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan were among those present. K-P Corps Commander Hidayatur Rahman and other senior officials were also in attendance.
“The convoy system will end from February 1 onwards,” a senior government official Farooq Ahmed told The Express Tribune on Saturday. “This was decided at the apex committee meeting.”
According to an official statement, it was also decided that a Quick Response Force of 300 policemen will be formed to increase patrolling on the KKH in Hazara Division of K-P. These officials will also be provided with 20 vehicles.
The meeting, which was called on the request of G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman, decided to wait for a Supreme Court commission to settle a boundary issue haunting the two regions for some time. “Till then, both regions will have to ensure law and order at their end.”
Diamer Deputy Commissioner Usman Ahmed said besides the boundary issue, security on Babusar Road was also discussed in the meeting. “The K-P government will ensure security at Babusar Pass,” Usman told The Express Tribune. He said the K-P police will establish check posts in areas falling in their territory.
According to an official at the meeting, G-B CM was enraged over the treatment meted out by Kohistan police to passengers from G-B on KKH. “The difficulties faced by the elderly, women and children in this cold weather are difficult to explain,” Hafeez said while voicing his concerns at the meeting. “The police’s behavior with these passengers is simply unbearable.”
The official quoted the G-B CM as saying both governments will incur the public’s ire if this continues. “CM Khatrak apologised to Hafeez on part of the K-P police and the people,” he added, requesting anonymity. The convoy system was introduced by the K-P government in 2012 after repeated attacks on passenger buses and target killings. However, the dilapidated highway and convoy system increased the 15-hour journey from Gilgit to Rawalpindi by seven hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2016.