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.
GV River Indus
GV Decorated tower of the Thakot suspension bridge
GV Flags flying in bridge
SV President Zia-ul-Haq and Vice-Premier Keng Piao
GV Chinese workers and Pakistani soldiers seated inside marquee (3 shots)
SV Completion documents being signed by Chinese Deputy-Minister of Communications Pan Chi and Major General Shfqat Amed Syed (2 shots)
CU president Zia and Vice-Premier Keng look on as Pan Chi and Shfqat Amed Syed embrace
GV President Zia making speech with Chinese workers listening (3 shots)
SV Officials applaud
GV Officers and wives seated
CU President Zia presents medal to Chinese worker
SV PAN FROM President Zia and Deputy Premier, to statuette of road builder
GV Party walking to ribbon. Chinese and Pakistan flags flying
SV Deputy Premier Keng cuts ribbon to applause, embraces Zia and walks across bridge (3 shots)
The highway, which climbs 15,000 feet (4,570 metres) over the Khunjrab Pass, is carved out of the walls of mountains and crossed swirling torrents fed by the surrounding glaciers. Reuters reported it will be of undoubted benefit to the tribes whose main contact with the outside world is through a small barter trade across the border with China. Reuters say it should also open up for tourists the splendour of the northern mountains -- an extension of the Himalayas -- at present served by only two small airstrips. However, the highway has been off-limits for foreigners since the Chinese joined the project in 1974 and foreigners will still need special permission to use ti, for some at least, according to Reuters.
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Background: 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.