Gilgit-Baltistan region is in the news these days, not for its yummy and mouth watering cherries and dried apricots but for the much-hyped world’s highest road which is to be constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Gilgit Baltistan Expressway costing Rs. 82 billion would be the highest road in the world and is considered to bring economic revolution in the entire region as announced by the Gilgit Baltistan’s Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman while talking to the National TV.
An expressway costing Rs.50 billion from Gilgit to Skardu region will aid the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and another from the capital city to Gilgit–Baltistan needing investment of Rs.82 billion will be constructed under the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor)
CPEC will not only aid Pakistan in solving the long-standing energy issue but will also help develop the infrastructure of roads and information technology systems. The proposed expressway from Shonter to Astore will likely reduce the distance between Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan by several hundred kilometers and also help reduction in traveling time between the two regions over by 8 hours.
Moreover, this project will not only expand trade activities in the Gilgit-Baltistan but will also help import agricultural production of the area to the other parts of the country. And the best part is that all the imported machinery for Gilgit-Baltistan will be tax-free, which is a great incentive from the Pakistan’s Federal government. The governments of Chinese province Xinjiang and Gilgit-Baltistan signed an agreement according to which people from both sides can enjoy visa-free travel very soon.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor often referred to by the CPEC, encompasses the projects currently under construction at a cost of 46 billion dollars. It intends to upgrade and expand Pakistan’s infrastructure as well as broaden the economic links between Pakistan and China. CPEC was first projected by Chinese Premier of State Council Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in 2013. Li Keqiang is China’s head of Government and one of the dominant figures behind China’s economic policy.
The corridor is considered to be an expansion of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, and the importance of CPEC to China is its incorporation as a part of China’s 13th five-year development plan. While the CPEC may be significant for Pakistan, but for China it is more of big plan to make the country’s economical reputation strong. Chinese officials are considering the corridor as the flagship project which will physically connect China to its markets in Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond.
The new CPEC project will include construction of new roads, a 1,800 kilometer railway line and a project of oil pipelines to connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the Gwadar port. The planned projects under CPEC also include a state of art airport at the Gawadar port and various energy projects, dry ports, special economic zones, among many others.