Tuesday, Apr 30, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
The External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, handing over the key of one of the 25 buses to a driver, in the presence of the Deputy Transport Minister of Afghanistan, Syed Sadi Mutafakkir (right), in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: S. Arneja
Another batch of 25 buses is expected to be sent to Kabul within the next 45 days. These vehicles have been procured from the 11.5 million dollar-aid package that India has provided to Afghanistan during the recent visit to New Delhi by the Afghan interim President, Hamid Karzai.
Afghan drivers will now take these buses into Afghanistan after crossing Pakistan. According to sources, these buses will be first driven to the Wagah border. Thereafter, they will cross into Pakistan and get into Afghanistan after crossing the cities of Rawalpindi and Peshawar. The total journey of around 1,500 km will be completed after they reach Kabul after crossing the Pak.-Afghan border at Torkhum.
India had in the eighties donated a large number of buses, which had become the backbone of Kabul's public transport service then. These 25 buses were officially handed over to Afghanistan's visiting Deputy Transport Minister, Syed Sadi Mutafakir, by the External Affairs Minister, Jaswant Singh, at an impressive ceremony this evening at Hyderabad House.
"Though made of iron and steel, these buses represent the emotions and sentiments that bind our two countries.
They are a symbol of continuity of the relationship,' Mr. Singh said. Invoking the memory of the late Ahmad Shah Masood, Mr. Singh said that he wished the celebrated Afghan commander, who had become the symbol of the anti-Taliban resistance but was assassinated in September last, was present on the occasion.
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