Pak launches multi-million dollar projects in Gilgit-Baltistan

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Islamabad, Sept 28: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday launched two multi-million dollar strategic projects in the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region aimed at restoring the Karakorum Highway that links Pakistan with China. Ashraf performed the groundbreaking for a new 17-km section of the Karakoram Highway that will replace a 25-km section that was submerged by the Attabad Lake, which was formed as a result of landslides.

The new section will be completed in a year at a cost of USD 282 million, officials said. He also inaugurated a 335-km section of the road from Raikot to Khunjerab that was upgraded at a cost of USD 510.42 million. This section of the highway has been widened and meets international standards of construction, officials said. The Karakorum Highway was severed by the artificial Attabad Lake following landslides.

Ashraf, who flew over the Attabad lake and the upgraded section of the road, said the new roads were part of an effort by his government to provide people of remote areas with fast and easy linkages with the rest of Pakistan. The new road will ease travel and deepen Pakistan's strong ties with China, Ashraf said.

He recalled his meeting with Chinese leaders during a recent visit to Beijing, where improving and realigning the Karakorum Highway was discussed. He thanked the Chinese government for dispatching heavy machinery for completing the project. Ashraf is on a two-day visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, which is claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir state. This is Ashraf's first visit to the region since he assumed office in July.

PTI

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