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KKH life line highway for China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation

The deep and enduring friendship between Pakistan and China stands as a unique example in the history of their relationship. Both nations are well-aware of this strong bond, and international observers often highlight the exemplary role of bilateral cooperation in shaping global dynamics, referring to it as the world’s eighth wonder.
In a broader sense, it can be said that the Pak-China relationship is similar to the Silk Route, where it serves as a conduit connecting China to various Asian countries. This route is a fundamental pathway extending access to other regions beyond Pakistan. Hence, it is often referred to as the “Shara-e-Raisham” or Silk Road. Consequently, this name became renowned, and it is called the Silk Road because, in ancient times, the silk cotton brought from China used to traverse this route in 1966, a landmark event took place between China and Pakistan, where practical wisdom turned the impossible into reality. The iconic Karakoram Highway, winding through the enchanting landscapes of the Himalayas and Karakoram, reaches an elevation of 15,000 feet above sea level. The symbol of friendship is playing a crucial role in strengthening relations between both countries. Initiated in 1966 and finally completed on October 21, 1979, this 800-kilometer-long Karakoram Highway stands as a significant gift for Pakistan from the joint efforts of the two nations. The Karakoram Highway features 24 major bridges, 70 smaller bridges, and spans across 1708 watercourses. Approximately 80 million km of cement were utilized in its construction. The Pakistan Air Force played a fundamental role, and engineers from both Pakistan and China contributed to its development. About 15,000 Pakistanis and 10,000 Chinese workers participated in the construction and progress of this significant road. This road was inaugurated in 1978 after a long period of 20 years. Starting from the charming valleys of Havelian, it traverses through the beautiful landscapes of Gilgit and crosses over the 16,000 feet high Khunjerab Pass, ultimately entering the Xinjiang region of China from the Pakistani town of Sust. In China, this portion of the road is referred to as “China National Highway 314.”This road connects the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Xinjiang in China, embellished by the majestic peaks of Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi. The scenic beauty of these snow-capped mountains adds to its allure. This road has prominently highlighted Pakistan’s significance on the global stage, serving as a symbolic link between the two countries. Stretching from Gwadar to China, the Karakoram Highway showcases tangible evidence of the friendship between Pakistan and China through developmental projects. Today, it stands as one of the busiest trade routes globally, symbolizing the busy connection between the two nations.
In 2015, the significance of the Karakoram Highway witnessed a substantial increase due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. This road has become a vital conduit for strengthening defense, economic, and trade relations between Central and South Asian countries. In terms of defense, the road traverses through strategically sensitive areas, making it one of the most significant and strategically crucial routes.
It serves as a means to maintain strategic balance in the region, encompassing countries like Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and Afghanistan. Through Pakistan, China is extending its influence in the region, and all the countries involved are experiencing an increase in connectivity. The completion of this project in 1969 has made it a focal point of global attention today. China is currently making substantial investments within Pakistan, transforming the deteriorating condition of its roads. China continues to extend its influence globally, fostering economic ties with various international countries. However, the deepening and strengthening of the friendship between Pakistan and China have historical roots. It would be unjust not to mention the pivotal roles played by leaders like Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and others in elevating these historic relations to new heights. As the foundation of friendship was laid between China and Pakistan, their relationship evolved, becoming stronger over time. This road from China poses a strategic concern for India, as it passes through the region of Indian-administered Kashmir where China’s presence is not fully recognized by India. In the context of 21st-century global affairs, there is heightened attention on both trade and defense matters, making this issue even more significant. Pakistan and China share the strongest and profound friendship. Currently, 70% of our defense collaborations are ongoing, and the presence of China in Gwadar has created concerns for both the United States and India. However, it will aid in maintaining a balance of power in the region. Pakistan is reassured by China’s presence, and in challenging times, China has always opened its heart to assist Pakistan
The International Highway, initiated during Ayub Khan’s era, is now being extended, connecting Gwadar with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Gwadar has become a strategic hub in the region, facilitating the transportation of Chinese goods to Asia and Europe. This development directly benefits Pakistan as it undergoes transformative changes. Over the past 21 years, the impact of Afghanistan’s situation had hindered Pakistan’s trade to some extent, but now, with internal changes taking effect, there is a clear indication of progress in Pakistan’s domestic and trade-related affairs. It is our collective responsibility to contribute to strengthening the enduring friendship between Pakistan and China, fostering development and success for both nations.
Moreover, concerted efforts were made to establish people-to-people contact, emphasizing the significance of grassroots connections. The success of this endeavor contributes to the resilience of the bond between these two nations.