Karakoram Highway

Karakoram HighwayThe Karakoram Highway (KKH) is one of the highest paved international roads in the world. It connects the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and Gilgit–Baltistan of Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, located at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E, at an elevation of 4,693 metres (15,397 ft).

Connecting China’s Xinjiang region with Gilgit–Baltistan region of Pakistan, the road is a popular tourist attraction. Due to its high elevation and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Karakoram Highway is known informally as the KKH; within Pakistan it is known officially as the N-35, while within China, it is known officially as China National Highway 314 (G314). It is also a part of the Asian Highway AH4.

History:
The Karakoram Highway, also known as the Friendship Highway in China, was built by the governments of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1959 and was completed and opened to the public in 1979. About 810 Pakistanis and about 200 Chinese workers lost their lives, mostly in landslides and falls, while building the highway. The Chinese workers who died during the construction are buried in the Chinese cemetery in Gilgit. The route of the KKH traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.

On the Pakistani side, the road was constructed by FWO (Frontier Works Organisation), employing the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers. Recently, the Engineer-in-Chief’s Branch of the Pakistani Army has completed a project documenting the history of the highway. The book History of Karakoram Highway was written by Brigadier (Retired) Muhammad Mumtaz Khalid in two volumes. In the first volume the author discusses the land and the people, the pre-historic communication system in the Northern Areas, the need for an all-weather road link with Gilgit, and the construction of Indus Valley Road. The second volume records events leading to the conversion of the Indus Valley Road to the Karakoram Highway, the difficulties in its construction, and the role of Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers and their Chinese counterparts in its construction.

The highway:
The highway, connecting the Gilgit–Baltistan region of Kashmir to the ancient Silk Road, runs approximately 1,300 km (810 mi) from Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region of China, to Abbottabad, of Pakistan. An extension of the highway southwest from Abbottabad, in the form of the N-35 highway, meets the Grand Trunk Road, N-5, at Hassanabdal, Pakistan.

The highway cuts through the collision zone between the Eurasian and Indian plates, where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan come within 250 kilometres (160 mi) of each other. Owing largely to the extremely sensitive state of the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan, the Karakoram Highway has strategic and military importance to these nations, but particularly Pakistan and China.

On June 30, 2006, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Pakistani Highway Administration and China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to rebuild and upgrade the Karakoram Highway. According to SASAC, the width will be expanded from 10 to 30 metres (33 to 98 ft), and its transport capacity will be increased three times its current capacity. In addition, the upgraded road will be designed to particularly accommodate heavy-laden vehicles and extreme weather conditions.

China and Pakistan are planning to link the Karakoram Highway to the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through the Chinese-aided Gwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends to Rawalpindi.

On 4 January 2010, the KKH was closed in the Hunza Valley, eliminating through traffic to China except by small boats. A massive landslide 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) upstream from Hunza’s capital of Karimabad created the potentially unstable Attabad Lake, which reached 22 kilometres (14 mi) in length and over 100 metres (330 ft) in depth by the first week of June 2010 when it finally began flowing over the landslide dam. The landslide destroyed parts of villages while killing many inhabitants. The subsequent lake displaced thousands and inundated over 20 kilometres (12 mi) of the KKH including the 310 metres (1,020 ft) long KKH bridge 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of Gulmit.

It is highly questionable whether the lake, which reached 27 kilometres (17 mi) in length in 2011, will drain. Goods from and to further north are transported over the lake by small vessels, to be reloaded onto trucks at the other end. In July 2012 Pakistan began constructing a revised route around the lake at a higher elevation with five new tunnels, with total length of 7.12 km, and two new bridges. The work was contracted out to the China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and was completed in September 2015—see Karakorum Highway Realignment (China-Pakistan Friendship Tunnels) below.

Pakistani section:
At 806 kilometres (501 mi) in length, the Pakistani section of the highway starts in Abbottabad, although the N-35 of which KKH is now part, officially starts from Hassanabdal. The highway meets the Indus River at Thakot and continues along the river until Jaglot, where the Gilgit River joins the Indus River. This is where three great mountain ranges meet: the Hindukush, the Himalaya, and the Karakoram. The western end of the Himalayas, marked by the ninth highest peak in the world, Nanga Parbat, can be seen from the highway. The highway passes through the capital of Gilgit–Baltistan, Gilgit, and continues through the valleys of Nagar and Hunza, along the Hunza River. Some of the highest mountains and famous glaciers in the Karakoram can be seen in this section. The highway meets the Pakistani-Chinese border at Khunjerab Pass.

A large section of the highway was damaged by landslides in 2010 that created Attabad Lake. A new 24 km route along the south-eastern side of the lake was completed in 2015 and opened to the public on September 14, 2015. The route comprises 5 tunnels and several bridges. The longest tunnel is 3360m, followed by 2736m, 435m, 410m and 195m. The Shishkat Great Bridge on Hunza River is 480m long. The Attabad tunnel was completed on 14 September 2015 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders. The realignment restored the road link between Pakistan and China and it is expected that significant amount of trade will be conducted between China and Pakistan through KKH. KKH is also a part of Pakistan China Economic Corridor, and is expected to significantly increase economic integration between China and Pakistan. China and Pakistan are currently pursuing significant number of infrastructure, communication and energy projects throughout the country. In addition, tourists from all over the country and abroad are flocking to Northern Pakistan to see this construction master piece.

Chinese section:
The Chinese section of the Karakoram Highway follows the north-south Sarykol (“Yellow Lake”) valley just west of the Tarim Basin. The road from Kashgar goes southwest about 80 kilometres (50 mi) and then turns west to enter the Gez (Ghez) River canyon between Chakragil mountain on the north and Kongur mountain on the south. From the Gez canyon the population becomes Kirgiz. Having climbed up to the valley, the road turns south past Kongur, Karakul Lake, and Muztagh Ata on the east. Below Muztagh Ata, a new road goes west over the Kulma Pass to join the Pamir Highway in Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan. The main road continues over a low pass (where the population becomes Tajik) and descends to Tashkurgan. Further south, a valley and jeep track leads west toward the Wakhjir Pass to the Wakhan Corridor. Next the road turns west to a checkpost and small settlement at Pirali, and then the Khunjerab Pass, beyond which is Pakistan, the Khunjerab River and Hunza.

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About Nasir Memon
I am Abdul Nasir Memon. I am a Project Manager. I have experienced of more than 15 years in IT field. I did complete various Projects of Website and Mobile Apps. I have expertise to manage Projects of Android Applications.

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