To a visitor to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) travelling from
Islamabad to Muzaffarabad, the Chinese presence cannot go unnoticed.
instance, there are saffron tents of Chinese workers on the banks of
the Jhelum and the Neelum rivers and signboards in the Mandarin asking
drivers to slow down.
Pakistan has opened up the PoK to foreign investment after the 2005 earthquake, which left 80,000 people dead.
offices to schools and from medical colleges to power projects, foreign
countries are rebuilding the PoK capital, with China taking the lead in
developing road infrastructure and building major power projects, along
with the Water and Power Development Authority of Pakistan.
Rs. 274.88-billion Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project will generate 969
MW, enough to solve the severe power shortage in the PoK and the
The biggest is the Kohala project, which
is set to generate 1,100 MW. By 2020, Pakistan aims to generate around
2,569 MW in the PoK. At least 15 smaller power projects are being
“Around 3,000 Chinese workers are stationed in
Azad Kashmir [the PoK]. The three power projects are set to generate
huge revenues,” Raja Farooq Haider, 60, former Prime Minister and Leader
of the Opposition in the PoK, told The Hindu. “Chinese workers here
take help from interpreters. They come to our markets but avoid mingling
with the population.”
Mr. Haider, a senior leader of the
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the main contender for Prime Minister
in the upcoming elections, wants Pakistan to renegotiate revenue share
once the projects are completed. “We want revenue share at the source,
and not royalty anymore. Also, the charges per unit of consumption
should be dropped further,” he said.
China has already invested
in a big way in constructing the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway that runs
through Gilgit-Baltistan, part of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir. It is
also widening the Jaglot-Skardu road by up to 20 metres to increase the
volume of traffic.
Mr. Haider is buoyed by Pakistan’s decision
to allow foreign countries to invest in the PoK. Nearly 1,000 foreign
workers, besides the Chinese, are working in that part of Kashmir. Saudi
Arabia is helping build a university, Turkey has come up with
government offices and Kuwait has invested around $100 million in the
rebuilding of infrastructure. South Koreans are also working here.
2005 earthquake almost flattened this Kashmir. But Pakistan is allowing
foreign countries to rebuild it,” said Khawaja Farooq Qadri, a local
Pakistan takes pride in Chinese investment in the
region. “China is our all-weather friend. It is not like others who use
us as a girlfriend meant for rainy days,” Senator Mushahid Hussain, a
leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid) said about new surface links
No of comments [ 0 ]