Pakistan on Thursday launched a bus service to neighboring China, state media reported. The first ‘Pak-China Friendship Bus’ was warmly received on arrival at the Chinese city of Kashgar.
Pakistan Minister for Communications Muhammad Shamim Siddiqui launched the bus at the northern Pakistani border city of Gilgit. The bus will ply between Gilgit and Kashgar via the border towns of Sust and Khunjarab.
The 800-km Gilgit-Kashghar bus service would ply thrice a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. “The service will not only further strengthen the relations between the two countries but will also help increase bilateral trade relations,” Siddiqui said at the bus service launching ceremony. He said that talks for issuance of multi-purpose visas are underway with China. He said increase in trade between the two countries through bus service would have positive impact on the economies of Pakistan and China, besides opening up new vistas of co-operation, investment and joint ventures for industrialists. Meanwhile a senior Pakistani official said on Thursday that no visa or passport is required for the locals intending to travel on recently started bus service between Pakistan and China.
Chinese tourists, traders could come upto Gilgit on just border pass to be issued by the chief secretary, Additional Secretary Ministry of Communication Muhammad Abbas told the Pakistan television. The people of the Northern Areas could go to China on border pass. However, visa would be needed for travellers from other areas.
A truck service has also been initiated with China. Chinese traders have been allowed to bring their trucks upto port cities of Karachi and Gwader. Truck from private careers would also be allowed to start their transport on Pak-China route, he added. The two countries had been discussing the agreement for starting both services since 1993.
The second bus service would go to Tashkorgan from Sust which is about 225 km from there while Sust is 90km from Khunjarab. It would be a daily service.