The world's highest international road, the Karakoram Highway, was built in eight years by experts from China and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) of Pakistan. The state of the art highway connected dwellers of one of the highest range of mountains to rest of the world. This incredible feat of engineering strengthened the Pakistan-China friendship and attracted tourists from all around the world until a few years back. Over the years, though, this highway became a victim of neglect. It has lost its beauty due to craters developed at many places because of landslides and torrential rains. The FWO and the National Highway Authority blame each other for the absence of maintenance work on this great road. At present, it takes as long as 30 hours for travelers from Gilgit to reach Rawalpindi due to bad condition of the road. Even worse are the conditions from Thakot Bridge to Chilas. Nepotism and corruption rules the roost in Islamabad so none of those at the helm is ready to look into the issue. They don't care a fig for the worst sufferers, the helpless natives of the Karakoram region. Islamabad governs the Northern Areas through puppetry. It's appointed Chief Secretary is loathes raising the issue with his bosses. -SHER ALI TABRIZI SUFI, via e-mail, August 15.