Pakistan mulls alternate CPEC route to cut down distance to China border

'The new route, after crossing the border at Yarkand, will connect GB's Shigar, Skardu and Astor districts to Muzaffarabad' 

ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan is going to consider another major route connecting China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The new route would be around 350km shorter than the existing routes via Khunjerab pass.

According to documents available with this scribe, the Gilgit-Baltistan’s Works Department, through a letter on January 8, was asked to prepare the ‘concept clearance proposal’ for the new route of CPEC, which would pass through Shigar, Skardu and Astor districts of GB and connect to Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The concerned departments in these districts have also been asked to submit the concept clearance proposals for the “Construction of 33 feet wide truckable road from Yarkand (China border) to Gorikot in Astor via Shagarthang, Skardu” at the earliest.

Talking to Profit, GB Minister Maisam Kazim, who held a meeting with Federal Communications and Postal Services Minister Murad Saeed on Friday, informed that the communication minister was also optimistic on the approval of the new route, which would be a historic step by this government.

“After the approval of concept clearance proposals by relevant CPEC forums, the government would initiate work on the mega project by the end of this year,” he quoted the federal minister as saying.

According to the minister, the route from Yarkant to Skardu via Shigar was an ancient trade route between China and Baltistan region. Restoration of the already existing route would revolutionise economic activities in the area, he opined.

It may be noted that a Chinese delegation had earlier visited Shigar and Skardu districts of GB where the locals and political representatives had informed them about the historic trade route between Baltistan region and China’s Yarkand.

According to officials, this new route would be around 350km shorter than the existing land route between Pakistan and China.

The route, after crossing the border at Yarkand, an oasis city in southwestern Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, far western China, would connect Shigar, Skardu and Astor districts of GB before finally touching Muzaffarabad in AJK, they added.

This route, according officials, is comparatively straighter, safer and more weather resistant.

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Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Another shortest rout from Gilgit city via Ghizer District to Shandur pass and linked with Chitral motor way about 380 km and all sessions route,

  2. “Another shortest rout from Gilgit city via Ghizer District to Shandur pass and linked with Chitral motor way about 380 km and all sessions route,” Excellent suggestion as this would also be 3rd alternative route in the mountainous region at par with existing 3 routes of CPEC in the plain regions. Remember a road blockage in mountainous region is more frequent and therefore we need as many of alternative routes as possible, irrespective short or long.

  3. Most important reason as already stated is to have alternative routes in case of land slides which happens so frequently in these hilly areas. At times main route is blocked for days. But we will have to build link roads for ease of shifting from one road to other in such eventualities….Good thinking in any case

  4. Excellent move. We must explore maximum possible options and follow the one which is most economical and viable option and always negotiate with China in the best interest of our country. All whether land connectivity with China is most important for security of both countries.

  5. It’s really encouraging to know this. It shows govt seriousness towards the game changer project. Defiantly it will also have positive effect on locals people. Good long live Pakistan.

  6. The rout can also be minimized in KPK from Dera Ismail Khan to Kohat by using Indus Highway already used for the first consignment from China to Gawader.

    • It’s seams an alternative route, but in my opinion it’s not feasible, because you have to cross high passes or you have to make tunnels longer than 45 km only to cross Muztagh pass and 2 more similar passes or tunnels at shagarthang and shounter . The Berlin valley is also an issue to build and keep operational due to Indian hit point and weather conditions. The best second opinion is to connect with Ishkoman and Hudur valleys via a tunnel about 20 km to the existing KkH or another 20 Km tunnel to kaghan valley via Thor valley.

  7. This rout was shifted from KPK to Punjab to a longrlonger rout by previous government of Nawaz Sharif.

    • There was no such route according to cpec documents. Only Salim safi a scandalous anchor created this story for other reasons

  8. Multiple link yo chona through various route is tactical alternative strategically or occasionally blockage. May bring opportunity covering widespread areas of GB.

  9. Multiple link to china through various route is tactical alternative strategically or occasionally blockage. May bring opportunity covering widespread areas of GB as well as China.

  10. There was no such route according to cpec documents. Only Salim safi a scandalous anchor created this story for other reasons

  11. The new proposed alternative route is technically, economically, climatically and strategically feasible. It must be explored to the fullest extent. God bless our country.

    • This will usher a new era of collaboration between the Super power-to be; China and Pakistan. GB, my motherland, once again serving Pakistan to the fullest. Here we go!

  12. Why don’t they start working on GB-Shandur-Chitral route which is more shorter, safer and easy route, yet the most delayed project. Wish govt would concentrate on the road structure of the most deprived districts Lower and Upper Chitral.

  13. It will be a great initiative & an alternate access for CPEC.In addition third route from Golgit Shandhur Chitral as suggested also needs exploring.

  14. It would be a great mill stone for the development of this entire region. Pak China friendship live long.

  15. Very good for
    future of pakistan and China.

  16. All roads linked to GWADAR must be given priority least we must provide drinking water? Yes no clean drinking water keep aside other basic needs

  17. Good to work on such main/international routes but to have and maintain good social behaviour and economics it is very necessary to address the condition of local roads (inter-district and inter-cities) which currently in very deteriorated condition either due to lack of routine maintenance or due to poor quality work at the time of construction. Govt need to devise a plan to ensure good quality work by keeping an eye over officials who do not perform their duties and take kickbacks which ultimately turn into loss of public exchequer.

  18. There are need of many alternste roots becouse of hilly region and landslides hurdles couse road blockage now and thenceforward

  19. It can further shortens the route if the Western Route in Balochistan I- e Gwader – Surab – Kalat – Quetta – Zhob – D . I Khan and so on … is developed. This was the first route but changed later on During Nawaz government because of political reasons.

  20. It is a totally unfeasible route because the entire route from Yarkand to Shigar, Skardu, Deosai, Astore, Shuntar pass, Kel, and then muzafarabad, all places are are well above 12000 feet altitude. This means, it will remain closed for 8 months and will take anotber two montbs to clear evalanches thus only 2 months for travelling in a year… Another stupidity and wastage of time and resources by PTI Government…

  21. Amazing, It would take more than only government to take steps for betterment of Country,
    Pakistan have to stand together as a nation if they need better future ahead, better infrastructure as well as Better infrastructure for Economy and Edutcation. Peace

  22. This road has nothing to do with economics. It is a defense road to sandwich Indian occupied Ladakh and enable China to bring heavy military machinery quickly in case of any Indian agression. Economy is second benefit.

  23. Wao ! What an Idea of Future. In this new CPEC route I think upper most villages of District Nagar Hispar and Hoper will enjoy CPEC new route. Because the passage breween Shigar and Nagar was an ancient Corridore.
    However, it would be a game changer for all IE’ Hunza Nagar Shigar Skardu Astore Neelum Valley MZD etc.

  24. I hope n pray for the success of all CPEC Projects coz their success shall shut many mouths who don’t want to see a prosperous Pakistan living a peacefully

  25. We are facilitating China in all manners but what we are getting in return, nothing is clear, we shall watch our interests closely and shall brief the Pakistani public. We have seen they purchasing lands every where, how they are allowed ???
    Remember Jews bought lands from Palestinians and then declared it Israel.
    We shall not be only optimistic/stupid, it could be another east India company.

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