The robust growth in business and commercial activities being witnessed in Qalandarabad, a small town in Mansehra district of Pakistan’s KP province, is an example of how China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is transforming economic landscapes of the areas it passes through.
In Qalandarabad, a town between Abbottabad and Mansehra, the M-15 (Hazara Motorway of CPEC) connects with the historic N35 (Karakoram Highway or China-Pakistan Friendship Highway). This junction has become a new centre of economic activities as people from the surrounding hilly areas as well as Kohistan district of KP have started settling here in search of better livelihood.
“The town has grown enough during the past few years after the inauguration of CPEC M-15 so that people now don’t need to travel to Mansehra or Abbottabad for shopping,” a trader told Gwadar Pro.
Safdar Hussain, a local resident, said that a few years back, this small town was famous for its German-run charity hospital, Bach Christian Hospital, but now for its growing commercial activities. He said that Hazara Motorway not only improved financial position of the local investors but also motivated outsiders to establish their businesses here. “The town is growing so fast that it might compete with the historic cities of Mansehra and Abbottabad soon,” he claimed.
Qalandarabad Trade Union President Malik Amjad said that although local population is not thick, the town has become a pivot for more than 25 union councils of Mansehra and many others of Abbottabad, due to which the business activities are galloping.
Nisar Ahmed, a grocery store owner, said that there were only a few scattered grocery stores in Qalandarabad, but now the town has multi-storey commercial plazas where everything a customer needs is available.
Naseema Bibi, a customer from union council Behali, said that she didn’t like traveling to Mansehra for shopping, which was not only hectic but also time-taking. “However, after CPEC passed from the area, the town has grown enough. Now I don’t need to go elsewhere for shopping,” she said.
Trader Malik Amjad said that a large number of people who migrated to the town after the devastating earthquake of 2005 chose to settle here permanently after CPEC Motorway passed the area. “People from Kohistan and other far-flung districts KP have also established their businesses in the market,” he said.