9 July 2012

Guardian article on the Attabad landslide and the Karakoram Highway

Posted by Dave Petley

The Guardian published an article last week on the aftermath of the Attabad landslide and the long term implications for the Karakoram Highway and the local people.  It includes the following:

A few dozen workers from the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), an arm of the Pakistani military, have been making slow progress picking at the massive dam with mechanical diggers and explosives.

“They are badly equipped and not properly qualified,” said Amin Beg, an official with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, a charity that works in the area. “The people here wanted the contract for draining the lake to be given to the Chinese. They actually care about this road because they have a strategic interest in it.”

After two years of work, the FWO has only succeeded in lowering the water level by about 10 metres.

Whilst mostly factually correct (although I would quibble with the comment that they are unqualified and poorly equipped – that is not my experience at all),  the criticism seems a little harsh on the FWO, who have been expending considerable effort on this difficult project over the last winter in very harsh conditions.