By Fazal Amin Beg
Although, the fabulous Karakoram Highway (KKH) is proposed to be considered as the Eighth Wonder of the World,it hasn’t got its deserving position as per se.Initiated in June 1966 by the Pakistan Engineering Team without appropriate planning,rather based their initiative on emotion , they started the road construction from the former Hunza State, the famous Khunzhrav Pass (the world’s highest mountain gate through which the motorized traffics move on at international scale).In brief, the Pakistani initiative seems to have failed due to lack of knowledge of the rocky terrain at a highest level and lack of acclimitization with the mountain region. In the aftermath, the Chinese Engineering Team and workers of the Socialist China take up the course. They thus succeeded to have a triumph over the mother nature in many ways and the KKH they constructed from Khunzhrav Pass down to Raikot within Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and then Thakot within Khaybar-Pukhtunkhwa (KP).
Lots of videos we can find on the internet with variety of goals and purposes wheher made by the tourists (domestic or foreign) or by the related road and bridge construction companies such as CRBC or FWO (Frontier Work Organization), less documentaries or videos we can however find that robustly addresses, ast least, the fundamental human rights, the dire and genuine needs of the indigenous and all people of Gilgit-Baltistan Region from where the KKH traverses for hundreds of kilometers and connects Kashgar (Xinjiang Region of China) with Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan).
It’s noteworthy that any sensible person, whether belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan or from outside the region, can better understand the behavior and situation of the geomorphorlogical make up that how it has its continuous and sustaining challenges for the natives and other peoples alike when such incredible ventures of road construction or maintenance are designed for the overall development as the region plays its dominant role for being an invaluable crossroad between Centrral and South Asia as well as China. But it never implies to monopolize and manipulate various types of power on the indigenous population (whether human or others) for the sake of broader national and vested intersts whether they be from either Pakistan, China or any other countries.
This important travel documentary on the Karakoram Highway, which involved never huge money or any so-called professional human or other resources on the subjecgt matter but rather being ordinary citizens of the region and as travellers on the famous road,we have come up to capture and show to the people of the related countries and the global communities about the famous KKH that has taken world attention and many people have been striving to declare this great and deserving venture as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Could it then be possible in such conditions when the road infrastructure development has been ruined by the related state organizations for the sake of mega level dam constructions, which itself is dangerous for the overall development of the communities of the region in terms of intense seismic activities, movement and catastrophe, environmental degradation and disasters,historic destruction of the rock arts galrries (thousands of inscriptions, petroglyphs, grafittis and the like) of the distant and near past and many more in the contemporary cultural, social, political, legal and other contexts.
The video therefore especially focuses the ruined nature of the KKH down to Chilas from Thor Nallah to Sumar Nala and onward to Dassu and Komila (in Kohistan district).
Though, the Met Department of Pakistan had already sensitized the entire citizens about the expected risks and hazards that will come up in result of heavy snowfall , many people were compelled to travel, especially those from Gilgit-Baltistan Region to the down-country as the travellers included patients , elders, women, children, students, businesspersons, employees, winter tourists, and so on.
We left Gilgit in the afternoon at 12:40 p.m in a good condition car of Didar Ali Shah of Yassen valley, Ghizer district. The related tour operators confirmed that the road was opened and clear from Gilgit to Islamabad. Well, the team of EaglesWorld channel had already planned to give a full coverage to the worst condition of the KKH, which starts from Thor Nallah down to Dassu and Komila. In order to save the battery for video, we needed to be frugal enough and that’s why the coverage of the video could be found mostly of the high risk sites and places.
Well, we had expected to reach Islamabad by mid-night as the travel time has got reduced due to the Hazara motorway up to Thakot and the travel takes maximum 12 hours oneside from Gilgit. We thus left Gilgit, passed through Parhi, Jaghlot, Talichi, Raikot, Tatapani, Bunardas, Ginni and Chilas. Sooner we started driving onto the devastated condition of the KKh in Thor Nallah, the camera for the videography was turnned on by my little daughter Surush Ayman Beg (over 11 years old). We thus passed through various places of such nature and some of them included Sazin, Shatiyal, Sumer Nallah, Lutter, Barsin and the like, and finally we reached Dassu and Komila in the evening after 6:00 p.m. The road condition could be witnessed so much disastrous as it sounds the situation might have been due to any catastrophe or battle. How would the normal and paticularly the abnormal people like patients, expected mothers, elderly people and children would travel on the road for couples of hours like thresheners of a threshing machine?
Honestly speaking, this itself is a disaster on the helpless travellers. Why don’t the FWO as a contractor of the KKH ignore the critical condition for the last many years? Do the heads of tplanning and execution think all travllers are their soldiers and they need to have practice to combat the enemies? It’s really a shame on them to the whole extent.
We crossed Dassu and Komila and now thought we crossed the danger zone and in two hours drive will reach Besham and will have our supper there in the Continental Hotel. But an English proverb held true here in our case: “Man proposes and God disposes.” When we drove ahead for half a nour or so at night, between Komila and Pattan, the road had got blocked more or less an hour earlier than our arrival on the spot. Even, it was reported that one or two people lost there lives in the face of the landsliding. All our plans were in vain. Disappointedly, we had to return to Komila and spend teh night there if could get an appropriate room with a washroom.
The vehicles of all travellers were in messy position and somewhere in queues. We had our supper in a restaurant at Dassu and got a room a local hotel in Komila. We spent the night with lots of concerns for the next day if that blocakge could get opened in time before noon.
The video of the First Day (January 6, 2022) thus ends here and it can be accessed on the following link of EaglesWorld:
It should be noted that the next video will be in more detail about the Second Day (Jan 7, 2022), which proved to be so adventurous in many ways. So, stay tuned to watch it in the next episode with various interesting stories for you all.