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Travel restrictions to be eased on Karakoram Highway

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT:

The chief ministers of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have agreed to ease travel restrictions on Karakoram Highway (KKH).

“Both the chief ministers met at K-P CM Pervez Khattak’s office in Peshawar on Wednesday and discussed the matter,” an officer of the G-B CM’s office said on Thursday. “G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman told his counterpart about the plight of passengers due to the convoy system on KKH.”

A question of feasibility 

The official added K-P CM issued orders to Inspector General of Police Nasir Durrani to ease travel restrictions in the areas that fall under K-P.

“The K-P CM asked the IGP to make the convoys smaller so that less time is spent on check posts in Kohistan,” he added.

Travel on the major highway, that connects G-B with the rest of the country via Kohistan, has become a nightmare, especially for the passenger buses. Many vehicles are forced to travel in groups for security reasons.

The official said Khattak also asked the IGP to increase the number of vehicles escorting the convoy so as to save time.

This stretches the otherwise 13-hour journey, between G-B and Rawalpindi, to over 22 hours as the convoy system requires 50 to 100 vehicles to move in groups from Diamer district to Bisham in Shangla. The law-enforcement personnel escort the convoy between 8am and 4pm.

The system was introduced in 2012 after repeated attacks on passenger buses and targeted killings became the order of the day.

Finding ways out

Both the chief ministers also discussed the boundary issue over the strip of land reserved for Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The issue has become a bone of contention between G-B and Kohistan.

The official also said Rahman showed interest in improving ties between both regions.

In a first

This is the first meeting between the two chief ministers who represent separate parties in mainstream politics.

On his visit to Peshawar on Wednesday, Rahman participated in the event to mark the first anniversary of the Army Public School massacre.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th,  2015.

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