ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, gears up for a pivotal visit to China next week, the stage is set for a significant development in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The visit promises to be a harbinger of a new era for CPEC projects, particularly in the acceleration of the Thakot-Raikot section.
The Thakot-Raikot section, a critical segment of the Karakoram Highway, is set for a substantial transformation. This route, bridging Thakot and Raikot, plays a pivotal role in the broader KKH and even CPEC infrastructure network, which acts as a vital link between Pakistan and the expanding realm of Chinese trade and commerce.
The Karakoram Highway, known as the Friendship Highway in China, is a testament to the enduring partnership between Pakistan and the People’s Republic of China. Constructed over a span of 16 years, from 1962 to 1978, it spans a breathtaking 1,300 kilometers, with 806 kilometers of it weaving through Pakistan’s majestic landscapes.
In 2005, Pakistan and China embarked on an ambitious endeavor to upgrade this iconic highway. Phase I of the Karakoram Highway up gradation, from Raikot to Khunjerab, encompassing a remarkable 335 kilometers, reached completion in November 2013, marking a significant milestone in its transformation.
The launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013 ushered in a new vision for the Karakoram Highway. It was no longer just a road; it was poised for a comprehensive makeover. The goal was to transform it into a world-class thoroughfare, characterized by heightened safety standards, improved road geometry, and an array of modern features.
This rejuvenated KKH brought with it a series of substantial improvements, including tunnels, high-level bridges, stable slopes, and bypasses around congested towns. These changes aligned it with international road standards, offering travelers a safe and remarkable journey through the heart of the mountains, extending from Mansehra to Thakot.
CPEC’s second phase saw the transformation of the E-35 section from Havelian to Thakot, stretching across approximately 120 kilometers. This redevelopment introduced a motorway section that links Havelian to Mansehra, streamlining travel and serving as an emblem of both nations’ commitment to efficient transportation infrastructure.
The consistent development of the Karakoram Highway symbolizes the enduring bond between Pakistan and China, epitomizing their shared commitment to cooperation, development, and prosperity. This iconic road, a testament to the unwavering friendship between the two nations, opens up new horizons for travelers, cargo transporters, and economic development.
The Thakot-Raikot section is on the brink of a significant change. The existing road, known for its sharp bends and limitations, is poised for an overhaul. State-of-the-art tunnels, aimed at reducing travel time and enhancing safety, are on the horizon. The road classification will advance from Class 4 to Class 2, signaling an upgrade in its quality and an increase in the permitted speed limit, promising swifter and more efficient travel.
This development extends beyond mere travel enhancements. It holds the potential to revolutionize cargo transport, making it more efficient and cost-effective. The improved road network will support heavier cargo loads, streamlining the transportation of goods with greater ease and efficiency.
As Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar prepares for his significant visit to China, the Karakoram Highway looms as a prominent highlight of this historic partnership. It signifies more than just a road; it’s a symbol of friendship, cooperation, and a shared vision for a brighter, more interconnected future.