Pak­istan links up with Kash­gar

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

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

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