Together for a shared future is no better epitomized on the ground than the close relationship that the Frontier Works Organization has with Chinese corporations, which goes back decades. Indeed, FWO was created in 1966 after an agreement was signed between Pakistan and China to construct the Karakoram Highway and to develop what was essentially a mule track into the world’s highest paved road. The Government of Pakistan assigned this challenging task to the Pakistan Army’s Engineering Corps. A decision was made to raise a composite organization to manage all aspects of this difficult construction; FWO was thus born.
From this humble beginning in 1966, FWO has progressed to become one of Pakistan’s largest engineering and construction organizations. Given its specialization in all aspects of engineering, bridge construction, tunneling, and its ability to deliver in turbulent and unsafe areas, FWO has emerged as a national strategic organization.
Over the years, FWO has gone on to work on hundreds of diverse projects across the country, from KKH to the Makran Coastal Highway in Baluchistan. Cooperation with Chinese firms was in its genesis and since its birth it has only strengthened that vital strategic relationship. FWO’s achievements are visible everywhere across the country, but particularly prominent is their current work under CPEC, where they are working on a number of projects, at times themselves and at times in cooperation with Chinese companies, from road infrastructure, to various other projects. We have highlighted these projects below.
Hakla-DI Khan Motorway (Kot Balian – Tarap, 52 km Package)
This 285 Km long motorway is being developed as part of the Western Alignment of CPEC. Package-3 of this – a 52 km long section, Kot Balian to Tarap, was awarded to FWO.
It is a four-lane motorway that starts from the Hakla (Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway) and finishes at Yarik (near Dera Ismail Khan). Public sources put the project completion at the cost of approximately Rs.122,181 million in total, of which Rs.110,208 million was spent on construction and a further Rs.11,973 million on land and resource transportation. It has created nearly 6,700 jobs.
The construction of this section is almost 90 percent completed. Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated Hakla-DI Khan Motorway on January 5, 2022; he emphasized how the project will “accelerate the socio-economic development of regions” and “will benefit the less developed areas of the country.” Completion of the motorway has reduced the travel time between Dera Ismail Khan and Islamabad from five hours to just two and a half hours. The 285 Km long motorway consists of 11 interchanges, 36 bridges, 33 flyers, and 119 underpasses.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif inaugurated N-85 on December 14, 2016. The project included up-gradation and widening of the 448 Km long Surab – Hoshab Road (N-85), which was completed in a record time by FWO.
The project is said to have cost approximately Rs. 17.97 Billion for its completion. The project links Gwadar Port through M-8 and Quetta through N-25. The 448 Km long route contains sixteen bridges and 1502 culverts. The road provides the shortest link between Gwadar and landlocked states of Afghanistan and Central Asian countries and constitutes a vital part of the Western Route of CPEC. Completing this vital road has contributed to Gwadar Deep Sea Port’s operationalization by enhancing its connectivity with major trade routes. It is the key component of the western corridor of CPEC. It is one of the major routes to access the southern part of Baluchistan province.
Mega trade convoy
The Chief of Army Staff mandated FWO to plan, coordinate and organize Pilot Mega Trade Convoy from Kashgar to Gwadar in connection with visible operationalization of CPEC. The Special Security Division (SSD) provided security to the convoy along both eastern and western sides.
Key objectives set forth for the pilot project were to synergize efforts of all stakeholders, instill confidence amongst Chinese and local exporters, initiate a mechanism for facilitating transit trade structure, and identify up-gradation requirements in logistic infrastructure besides thwarting nefarious designs of inimical forces.
The project concluded with a ceremony at Gwadar to see off the first cargo ship carrying trade goods from Gwadar Deep Sea Port. Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff graced the occasion besides Ambassadors and senior diplomats of ex-friendly countries. On November 13, 2016, the ‘First Pilot Trade Cargo’ was held at Gwadar Port through CPEC.