KHYBER: The government is contemplating the resumption of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Dosti bus service to increase people-to-people contacts between the two countries, said an official.
Deputy commissioner of Khyber tribal district Shah Fahad told Dawn that the local administration along with local security officials were in contact with the local Khugakhel tribal elders for the acquisition of land to put up a bus terminal on the Torkham border.
He said that substantial progress had been made in efforts to convince local elders and other stakeholders about the worth of the Dosti bus service.
“Majority of stakeholders have agreed to extend support and cooperation for the resumption of the bus service,” he said.
The Dosti bus service was suspended in June 2016 after Pakistani and Afghan border security forces exchanged heavy gunfire over Afghanistan’s ‘angry’ reaction to the construction of a gate by Pakistan in the latter’s territorial limits.
The DC said that the bus service had three major objectives of promoting greater people-to-people contacts, exploring greater business opportunities and facilitating trade between the two countries.
He said that the decision on the resumption of bus service was made after a series of ministerial level contacts and meetings between the two countries since July 2022.
Mr Fahad said 40 luxury buses would ply between Peshawar and Jalalabad with commuters strictly following the visa protocols agreed upon by the two countries.
Officials at Torkham told Dawn that the Dosti bus service would ease pedestrian traffic at the border crossing and facilitate Afghan civilians and traders living in or near Jalalabad along with tribesmen settled along Pakistan border.
Though the government has yet to announce the final date for the bus service’s resumption, officials believed that the ‘greater objectives’ attached to the move would be achieved through collective efforts of law-enforcement agencies, district administration and local tribesmen.
Khugakhel resident Nisar Ahmad welcomed the development and said he hoped that not only would the resumption of the Dosti bus service provide quality transport facility to people of both countries but it would also generate additional employment opportunities for local tribesmen.
Meanwhile, a handful of taxi drivers and social activists staged a demonstration against the bus service at the Bacha Khan Chowk in Landi Kotal Bazaar on Thursday.
The cabbies insisted that the resumption of Dosti bus service would hit them hard as they would lose a large number of commuters to the initiative.
They added that the bus service would render many of them jobless causing serious financial problems for their families.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2023
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