Pakistan links up with Kashgar
KARACHI: China and Pakistan, which are already working to improve land communications across their mutual border, have inaugurated the first air cargo service linking Islamabad with Kashgar in China's northwest Xinjiang province, with Rayyan Air, a Pakistani charter airline, operating the first 90-minute flight.
Opening of the IslamabadKashgar air cargo route last week came just before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Pakistan for the Pakistan-China strategic dialogue to be held in Islamabad on December 17. Ahead of Wen's visit, Beijing agreed this month to extend cooperation in 36 development projects worth US$13.2
Kashgar, located near the borders of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and India, is well placed to become an important air logistics base. Cargo shipped between China and Pakistan has so far mostly gone by truck across a border closed from the end of December to May each year due to the severe winter climate.
The air cargo service will make products of the two countries available the year round and make markets in Central Asian states more accessible for Pakistan. It also augments Beijing's efforts to develop the western regions of China, including Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uyghurs, helped by better communication with projects such as an extension of high-speed train services from the eastern part of the country. Kashgar was recently given the status of a special economic zone and it is hoped it will become a major trade and transport hub, reviving its position as an important transit point on the what was the ancient Silk Route between China, Central Asia and the Middle East and Europe. -PB News