All parties ask govt to restore Chitral expressway project

Black day announced on Aug 15 in Chitral, Dir and Bajaur against dropping of Chakdara-Chitral expressway project by PTI govt.

TIMERGARA: Political leaders and civil society activists from Chitral, Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Bajaur at an all parties conference on Saturday demanded the government to restore Chakdara-Dir-Chitral expressway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

They said it would be the safest, shortest and strategically-important route to link Central Asian States with Pakistan.

The Jamaat-e-Islami arranged the all parties conference at Zawal Baba on the issue of Chakdara-Dir-Chitral Motorway.

The moot was attended by former and sitting lawmakers from the opposition, lawyers, traders, activists of Dir Qaumi Pasoon, members of Adenzai Qaumi Jirga and social activists from Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Chitral and Bajaur districts.

Participants vowed to resist the government plan to ignore the Chakdara-Dir-Chitral CPEC route.

Neither PTI lawmakers nor its district office-bearers participated in the moot despite proper invitation and formal meetings with them.

Former MNA Shahzada Iftikharuddin from Chitral said Chakdara-Chitral route is part of CPEC and was approved by the previous PML-N government. Two economic zones were also included in this project, he added.

He said during the previous government, the estimated cost of the Chakdara-Chitral-Ghizer-Gilgit road was Rs117 billion, including the economic zones etc.

With the shifting of the mega project to Swat, these economic zones have also been shelved, he added.

Shelving the already approved mega project is tantamount to robbing the people of these districts. But people of these districts would not allow the government to sabotage the project, he said.

Former provincial minister Salim Khan said the previous KP government of PTI itself had raised voice to include Chakdara-Chitral road in CPEC during the PML-N government.

After the KP assembly passed a number of resolutions, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to include the road in CPEC, he added.

But today unfortunately the same PTI government has sabotaged the project that would benefit five million people of five districts, he added.

Former district nazim Chitral Maghfirate Shah said the shifting of the project to Swat was a conspiracy to keep Chitral deprived of development which would not be tolerated.

Black day

The participants also agreed to mark August 15 as black day against the government in all the five districts of Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Upper Chitral, Lower Chitral and Bajaur for dropping the Chakdara-Dir-Chitral motorway from the PSDP projects.

It was announced that all segments of the society would hoist black flags on their houses, offices and markets to record their protest against the government.

Majority of the speakers were of the view that the project was included in CPEC after the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif announced to build the road in late-2016.

They said that next year the project was included in the PSDP but later the PTI-led government dropped it.

The speakers also expressed anger over removal of the project from the PSDP and accused Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed of what they called misleading the nation on the assembly floor.

The speakers demanded the minister to seek public apology from the nation and people of the five districts of Malakand division.

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