KKH upgrade project: Affected families threaten to block highway
Families affected by upgrades to the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan have given the government a month’s time to pay back their outstanding dues.
“We will block traffic on the highway from April 10 onwards,” said a group of affected people while addressing a news conference in Gilgit.
The press conference was addressed by Jehangir Khan, Numberdar Shifa, Haji Ibrahim and Kasheer who were members of the KKH affectees committee. The body had been formed to fight for the rights of people affected by the work on the highway.
“It has been seven years since we lost our lands, but the government is not interested in paying us the due compensation,” they claimed.
They added that they had visited several government offices over the years to secure their due compensation but to no avail. They said that the government had used red-tape as a tool to deny people their rights.
They threatened to mobilise all affected communities to ensure a successful strike.
The Karakoram Highway had been upgraded from the Raikot bridge in Diamer to Khunjerab near the border with China from 2008 onwards.
It took around five years to complete the project which was built with cooperation from China.
But nearly eight years on, people who lost their lands to make way for the project claim that they have not been compensated yet.
“This is the height of injustice,” said Khan. “Enough is enough, we will not keep quiet anymore.”
There have been regular protests on the KKH seeking compensation over the years, but the issue continues to linger.
The last protest was held in November last year in Sost where over 500 locals blocked the KKH for several hours, disrupting traffic between Pakistan and China.
The protestors also staged a sit in on the KKH demanding compensation.
They alleged that the National Highway Authority (NHA) was ‘wilfully’ denying locals their rights for the past eight years.