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Why protest for construction of roads at this particular time?

MASTUJ: With the launch of the protest by people of Mastuj, Yarkhun and Laspur demanding construction of roads to their respective areas, there have been questions raised by different quarters about its timing.

Leaders of the local chapter of the PTI say it is politically motivated and being launched by some people to malign the government at a time when the world famous polo festival was set to begin at Shandur a few weeks later. They say the roads remained neglected in the past but the area people never launched such a protest during the tenures of the PPP or the PML-N.

They also claim that the federal government has allocated Rs1 billion for the construction of the Shandur road which is also a part of the CPEC project from Giligt to Shandur-Chitral and Chakdara.

To know the stance of the leaders of the protesters, ChitralToday contacted Samsam Ali Khan Advocate, who is one of the active leaders of the protest and representing the people of Yarkhun.

He said for many years both the elected representatives and government departments made false claims and promises with the area people and took their votes. Even funds amounting to millions of rupees were embezzled in the name of the construction of Booni-Mastuj road.

He said people of the area were fed up with both empty promises made in the past while Musharraf government had launched construction of the Shandur road and built the Mastuj road but could not complete it as he exited power.

When the PTI came to power, people have had lots of expectations and confidence that it would fulfil all its promises and resolve public issues. They also expect that the PTI government would take action against all those who misused the funds and kept the people on false promises.

Holding peaceful protests is our basic democratic right and we are hopeful that the PTI government would realize the gravity of the issue and give priority to the roads. This would also help the government materialize its resolve to promote tourism in the area.

Secondly, both the MNA and the MPA Chitral belong to religious parties and people are of the firm opinion that they would neither indulge in corruption nor make false promises and work for the betterment of the masses and resolve this issue too.

“Keeping these two views in mind, we have launched the struggle to get the longstanding issue resolved once and for all. Our protest is solely for public good and we have no other agenda in our mind. Local people are united and without party affiliation have decided to continue their struggle,” he maintained.

He said people were not convinced by claims being made by government quarters that funds have been allocated in the budget and work on the Shandur road would be started soon. He said Yarkhun road was equally important but has always been ignored by successive governments forcing the locals to repair it on a voluntary basis.

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