ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: A bridge at Thakot, a subdivision of Batagram district, some 250 kilometres from here, was renamed as "Yuee" (friendship) bridge in recognition of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistani and Chinese engineers and workers in the construction of the historic Karakoram Highway.

Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who could not attend the ceremony due to inclement weather, in his message termed the Karakoram Highway a masterpiece of engineering in the great friendship between Pakistan and China.

He said it was a matter of great satisfaction that relations between the two countries were strengthening day by day. Highways, he said, played the role of chains of love and friendship and this highway was an example.

The premier said relations between the two countries were progressing well for the economic development and Gwadar port was its practical shape. The future of Pakistan-China friendship is bright like its past and we will continue to promote it in the coming days in the best interest of the two people, he added.

Chaudhry Shujaat particularly mentioned the death of three Chinese engineers in Gwadar recently which he said did not affect the pace of work on the port. Earlier, chief secretary NWFP Ijaz Qureshi and chairman NHA Maj-Gen Farrukh Javed jointly unveiled the plaque on behalf of the prime minister.

The NHA and Frontier Works Organization (FWO) had made elaborate arrangements on the occasion. A large number of people from nearby villages had gathered to attend the function but they were not allowed to get closer due to security reasons.

Traffic was closed at a distance of seven kilometres downward and half a kilometre from northern side, causing hardships to the commuters. Talking to newsmen on the occasion, director-general FWO Brig Munawar Niazi said the friendship bridge would need to be replaced whenever work on the proposed Basha Dam got underway.

However, the NHA chairman said the bridge was capable of carrying any sort of heavy traffic. District Nazim Ataullah Tarand welcomed the guests.

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