Pakistan's growing bonds with Peking were symbolised in the inauguration on Saturday (17 June) of the strategic 500 mile (800 kilometre) Karakorum Highway to China.
Pakistan's growing bonds with Peking were symbolised in the inauguration on Saturday (17 June) of the strategic 500 mile (800 kilometre) Karakorum Highway to China. The highway, described as a masterpiece of modern road engineering, stretches from the border of China's Sinkiang province to within a short distance north of Pakistan's capital of Islamabad.
SYNOPSIS: The opening ceremony of the karakorum Highway took place on a Chinese-build bridge across the River Indus at Thakot about 150 miles (240 kilometres) from Islamabad, overlooked by the bleak Karakorums and the Himalayas.
The ceremony was performed jointly by General Zia-Ul-Haq, the Pakistani military ruler, and Mr. Keng Piao, the Chinese Vice-Premier. The Highway was build at great cost and some 400 workmen are reported to have died during 10 years of construction. The road link which cut days, and perhaps weeks, off the present sea route from China to the West across the Pacific.
For China the road will become a 'back-door' access to the troubled Middle East and Africa. General Zia suggested the highway would become the eighth wonder of the modern world and he called it a "highway of friendship" that would have enormous economic repercussions on the barren and underdeveloped frontier regions of Pakistan. He said it would encourage closer economic cooperation between China and Pakistan.
The opening, after 20 years of labour during which much of the explosive and supplies could get through only on the backs of porters, is said to come at a convenient time for Pakistan. Reuters reports that the road is seen as strengthening Chinese influence in Pakistan which is concerned about the Soviet Union's next step after the successful pro-communist coup in neighbouring Afghanistan. Reuters said the Soviet Union was reported to have indicated to Pakistan that it would like it to adopt a more pro-Moscow foreign policy. General Zia has compared the road to the Great Wall of China and Mr. Keng said it was the realisation of a 1,000 year-old dream.