ISLAMABAD - A bus service between Pakistan and China will be launched today (November 3) despite protests by India, officials here said.

Senior officials said at the foreign ministry told The Nation that since China had also supported Pakistan’s stance, there was no reason to cancel the service.

One official said: “This is something between Pakistan and China, India is unnecessarily interfering. We will go on with the bus service.”

Another official said: “China has also supported our point of view. This is a service under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. There is no reason to halt this project.”

Earlier, China said it maintains a clear cut position on Kashmir issue and all the cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad including on bus service has nothing to do with territorial dispute.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said CPEC was an economic cooperation project between the two countries. The spokesperson said: “It is not targeted against any third party, it has nothing to do with the territorial dispute and it will not affect China’s principled position on Kashmir.”

A private Pakistani transport company - North-South Transport Network – is launching the bus service from Lahore to Chinese city of Kashgar via Islamabad.

The bus will travel from Lahore to Kashgar, China. The one-way ticket will cost Rs13,000 while the return ticket will be for Rs23,000. The one-way journey will take 30 hours to complete providing breathtaking views of northern Pakistan en-route.

According to owner of the company Mohammed Anwar said the bus service will further boost the friendly relations between Pakistan and China. The bus service starts when Prime Minister Imran Khan is already in Beijing. During a meeting between PM Khan and President Xi Jinping, China promised to support Pakistan’s economy.

The two leaders reviewed the Pakistan-China bilateral relations and held in-depth discussions on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

In his meeting with the Chinese President, PM Khan said his party, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, had been in power for two months. And “Unfortunately we have inherited a very difficult economic situation.”

President Jinping said he highly valued the two country’s relations, reaffirming they were “all-weather” friends. “I attach great importance to China-Pakistan relations and am willing to work together with the prime minister to strengthen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and build a new era of China-Pakistan destiny,” the President was quoted as saying by the official media.

The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, told Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a separate meeting that China would not let Pakistan down.

PM Imran Khan thanked the Chinese President, government and the people of China for their warm sentiments and also congratulated them on the 40th anniversary of “Reform and Opening-up”, which has resulted in China’s meteoric rise.

He stressed that friendship with China was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and expressed the earnest desire of his government to further consolidate this relationship.

The two leaders also discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest and agreed to work closely towards overcoming growing political-economic uncertainties. He underscored that Pakistan stands by China in safeguarding mutual interests, shared ideals and promoting multilateralism.

The Pakistan-China bus service will be run by North-South Transport Network. A Pakistani would require a valid Chinese visa and other identity documents to undertake the journey.

Officials said the two countries are for the first time launching a high-end bus service. It is to be noted that China and Pakistan already have a land route link for trade and travel purposes.

The bus will ply four days a week and start from Lahore and Tashkurgan. From Lahore, the bus would ply on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The departure from Tashkurgan would be on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Premium and luxurious buses would be used to offer a comfortable journey. The en-route services will include breakfast, lunch, dinner refreshment, beverages, tea, and snacks. Fast Wi-Fi service would also be provided.