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Pak-Afghanistan bus service launched

The two countries plan to begin the full service by April to boost bilateral trade, which reached close to $1 billion last year.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 16:03 IST

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday began the first bus service between their main border cities as the two countries try to calm recent tension over the cross-border infiltration of Islamic militants.

Starting from Jalalabad city in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, the bus carrying local Afghan government officials crossed over the Khyber Pass into Pakistan in the afternoon.

A brief ceremony was held on the border to welcome the trial bus with the slogan "Long live Afghanistan-Pakistan friendship" written on the side, before it headed towards Peshawar, the capital of North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP).

Pakistan will run its trial bus Friday and the two countries plan to begin the full service by April to boost bilateral trade, which reached close to $1 billion last year.

Inamullah Shah, a spokesman for the NWFP transport ministry, told reporters in Peshawar the two countries planned to run 12 buses - six from each side - daily.

The two countries also plan to start a bus service between Quetta in Balochistan and Afghanistan's Kandahar.

The trial bus service was launched in spite of recent tensions between the allies in the US-led war against terrorism over the mutual allegations of cross-border infiltration of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during a recent visit to Pakistan, handed over a list that contained information about some 40 Taliban leaders who, he alleged, were operating from Pakistan to carry out subversive activities in his country.

However, Pakistan rejected most of the information on the list as "outdated".

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 15:25 IST