By Didar Ali
After 1999 it’s my longest stay here at my beautiful hometown, Gulmit, because normally I used to visit my family for short time. It has been quite long and I can notice many changes in social circle as well as in geographical structure of my village.
Habitually I prefer to sit with old aged villagers during my socialization, out of the notion that I can get a true picture of bygone era and the contemporary one. Past experiences and diverse history accounts are the key of locals to compare and evaluate huge changes that have enveloped the area over the years.
Currently the reconstruction of Karakorum Highway (also known as Silk Route) is a hot topic among the villagers; in a fascinating encounter with some old-aged villagers I received some interesting information, which was an eye opening for me.
The previous Chinese engineers and labors were so kind, friendly, true and dedicated to their cause, their living standards were admiring, ranging from their hygiene standards to safety precautions. They took good care of nature, the locals and their norms all through the construction of the KKH, the highest paved international road in the world.
The KKH project was initiated in 1959 and completed in 1979. Sadly there is an immense difference between today’s Chinese and the previous ones, complain the villagers who had also witnessed the KKH project in the 60s and 70s, referring to the Chinese workers currently working on the realignment and improvement project of the highway.
The Chinese engineers and labors working on the highway’s realignment project live like sheep & goats (Chhat-et Khoor rang), as their hygieneso poor and their ignorant and materialistic life style, said a 70 year old man.
“The new Chinese workers are astonishingly so corrupt,” he added.
They even sell road construction supplies and use low quality materials, which earns them huge bucks. Several people fear that the corruption among the Chinese workers would translate into bad quality of the highway, which they say will result in the road’s reduced lifespan.
“Yemve kikumer mizg be kert, yashetep ska khu saar durzen khe traa-ep yundun,” said a village elder, meaning “even if the Chinese pee somewhere; they’ll take the soil along to China.” This shows the self-centeredness and ravenousness of the Chinese.
Listening to all these interesting discussions, I realized that the locals have come to a point that our kind neighbors are not benevolent to us; neither have they had soft corner for our endangered traditions and pristine, but fragile nature.
Rumors, and even some media reports, have it that the government of Pakistan is thinking to hand over Gilgti-Baltistan to China on lease. If true, I believe it will be a bad news not only to the people, but to the nature, culture and economy of the area.
Didar has a passion to write about arts, culture, nature and tourism. He blogs at OINOMANCY. He can be reached at email@example.com