Once upon a time there was a road that linked Kalma Chowk (on Simly Dam Road) with Mera Begowal (a rural village in the Murree foot hills), providing access to thousands of residents and settlements along its alignment. I used the phrase “once upon a time”, because this road has met its demise at the hands of a ‘couldn’t care less MNA’ and poor (or more appropriately) no governance. It appears that in all probability, Islamabad’s rural road network (unless one serves the residence of someone in power) and communities, has been cast “to the dogs”. Off and on, some caring resident with means at his disposal, carries out rudimentary repairs as best as he can, but his work is undone within weeks. At a point approximately one kilometer along this road, another route branches left and upwards into the hills. A close scrutiny of the twisted sign, tells visitors that this is ‘Nimra Abbasi Road’, once a wide metaled link with homes and communities that it served, until a celebrated land development group, with a name that often misleads people to link it with Pakistan Navy, decided to acquire the hills for its projects. Within months the road surface was destroyed by dumpers, heavy earth moving machinery and falling rocks dislodged by bulldozers working on the ridges. With no surface protection and blocked storm drains, rain torrents did the rest. Repeated requests and Emails served no purpose and heavy traffic continued to aggravate the situation, rendering access to homes a most difficult task. The effected community now waits in vain for the founder and chairman of this group, who has carved out a reputation of being a ‘great philanthropist and leading citizen’, to turn his benign gaze upon the pain that his underlings have inflicted and in fulfillment of his civic obligations, rebuild or at least repair the road that his minions have destroyed.

Like lost cities in the amazon rain forest, there is another asphalt strip that appears to have disappeared from CDA maps, but can be clearly seen using Google. It runs parallel and at a higher elevation to Hill View Road, connecting Banigala with Simly Dam Road. At a distant point in times past, CDA must have allotted a contract to resurface this link since a major portion was rooted up and covered with crushed stone. Work was then abandoned and that is how it has remained for the past many years. While a drive here is an ‘axle breaker’, it is one of the most scenic in the area, creating an illusion that one is in a hill station. Its greatest benefit to the public would be that once resurfaced and extended to Murree Expressway, it would bypass the congested built up area of Barakahu and allow a speedy flow of traffic going to Murree and even beyond.

In keeping with my footloose nature, I have travelled almost every road or track running through the length and breadth of the hills around the Federal Capital. It was during these drives (and in some cases – treks) that I have seen breathtakingly beautiful spots, met amazing people, discovered flora and fauna that I thought did not exist in this part of the world. Many of these spots have the potential to become tourist attractions, but lie derelict and undeveloped since their roads are either badly damaged or nonexistent.

What amazes me is the audacity and shamelessness, with which ministers and advisors manage to get beautifully surfaced access to their homes or land holdings. One example of this, is the Park Road – Banigala link that was rebuilt only up to the point, where it served the interest of an advisor in the Foreign Ministry.

Khanpur Road connects GT Road from just across the famous (Nicholson Monument) with Haripur. This route is used by all types of traffic moving between Punjab and KPK. Barring the stretch, where it enters and leaves the Taxila Cantonment limits, it has become almost perilous to drive on, especially at night. Travelers however, heave a huge sigh of relief as they cross into KPK for shortly thereafter, they find themselves cruising on a beautiful surface right up to Haripur. Even this stark difference, has failed to awaken the Punjab Government into action.

One cannot deny that where roads go, they carry economic prosperity with them. It is also said that roads link people, indirectly promoting national unity. On the flip side then, does this imply that roads that deter travel do the opposite? Only the CDA or the Ministry responsible for connecting communities and people can answer my question.

Like lost cities in the amazon rain forest, there is another asphalt strip that appears to have disappeared from CDA maps, but can be clearly seen using Google.