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Pak launches bus service to Afghanistan

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 had cut off the 120-km road link.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 14:44 IST

Pakistan launched its first public bus service on Friday to eastern Afghanistan since that country tumbled into war nearly three decades ago, officials said.

A bus carrying 22 passengers left Friday from Peshawar, in Pakistan, headed for Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, said Akhtar Nawaz, transportation minister in Pakistan's North West Frontier province.

The bus service was a popular means of transport until 1979 when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan cut off the 120-kilometer road link.

Until Friday, public buses hadn't travelled the road since, although other cross-border routes exist.

Nawaz hoped that the bus service will "help enhance friendship, peace and love between the two countries."

Pakistan was once a main supporter of Afghanistan's former Taliban regime, but it switched sides in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and subsequent Taliban ouster by the US-led military coalition.

Islamabad has backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai, but a spike in violence in parts of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan has fuelled suspicions in Kabul that Pakistan still backs Taliban remnants, a charge Islamabad denies.

First Published: May 26, 2006 14:44 IST