This year’s spring has brought along a breath of fresh air for the people of Gilgit Baltistan as Pakistan International Airlines, on the directives of Supreme Appellate Court of GB, dispatched its first flight from Gilgit to Skardu. Chief Minister of GB Hafeez ur Rehman along with other dignitaries saw off the Air Bus take off for its maiden flight to Skardu amid cheers and uproar of the local crowd. The SAC took Suo Moto notice of Shaheen International Airlines apparent refusal to the previous orders of the court to conduct flights from Gilgit to Skardu to facilitate the commuters within the administrative boundaries of GB.
This comes as the fulfillment of an age-old demand of the people of GB who have continuously suffered the hazardous and unpredictable conditions of the treacherous patch of Karakorum Highway leading to Skardu. The 300km KKH portion that leads to Skardu from the administrative and political capital of GB, is constantly challenged by nature involving severe landslides and road blockades.
This new communication route will not only facilitate the tourism which is the major source of income for the region but will also help the government machinery to function smoothly through the two major cities. Chief Minister Hafeez ur Rehman also announced that PIA will soon be conducting four international flights in a week direct from Skardu to further the tourist activities in the area.
“Flights will be started to Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” CM Rehman said.
Gilgit being the hub of political and social activities in the region is also home to the “Mother of Mist” Rakaposhi, the 17th highest mountain on earth and the picturesque Hunza often coined as the living Shangrila. Meanwhile Skardu is the gateway to Baltoro and Biafo Glaciers, some of the longest glaciers on earth and home to the mighty peaks of Karakorum of the likes of K2 and Gasherbrum massif. This air journey, if promoted intelligently, can also become one of the most sought-after air safaris with jaw-dropping views of the giants like Nanga Parbat, K2 and other 8000m peaks in the region.
Chief Minister also thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his keen interest in the initiative and hoped that this will invigorate a new era of tourism in the region.