Fears and Doubts along CPEC
Before the first Karakorum Highway opened in the 1970s, Gilgit-Baltistan residents depended on ponies and mules for transportation and had to make wool overcoats to stay warm. Now, however, they have a primary transport system, and sleep in a sub-zero, synthetic sleeping bag that are made in China.
But fear is growing among many residents of Gilgit-Baltistan, around Khunjrab Pass, where CPEC enter into Pakistan. Living insight of some of the world's most stunning scenery, including five of the world's 14 tallest mountains, residents worry about traffic, pollution, and their lifestyle. There will be a lot of environmental issues in the future, and if residents don't get anything out of it, their kids will just be collecting the garbage and rubbish from the trucks.
The doubts here in Gilgit-Baltistan also are rooted in history as some residents believe Pakistani businesspeople and politicians have looted the region's vast mineral deposits and lucrative timber fields from the southern part of the country. Other think that they will not get anything, and they will load the gems in containers and move down to the Arabian Sea, or take them to China where they will polish, and foreign investors are the only ones likely to benefit from the project.
On the other hand, some residents of the area believe that China would be offering a lot to Pakistan which could be evident along the border, for example, cell phone coverage is sparse but when you reach the top of Khunjerab Pass, 3G service from a Chinese cellular provider bleeds across the frontier.