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Birmingham-Pakistan: travelling the Silk Road by coach

25 October 2012 - A 12-day regular coach service linking Birmingham with a city in Pakistan has been floated as a means of strengthening ties between the two communities. The Birmingham-Pakistan coach would pass through at least seven countries and cost about £130.


Promising a “thrilling ride” to all travellers who book a seat, Tahir Khokher, the Transport Minister for Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) regional government, has suggested the luxury service could be particularly popular with youth and those with a sense of adventure.


The West Midlands has long-established links with the AJK region and the capital, Mirpur, is sometimes referred to as Little England or Little Brum. It is said that Birmingham is home to the largest population of Pakistani Kashmiris outside the country.


The journey proposed by Mr Khokher would pass through at least seven countries and cost around £130, a considerable saving on the average cost of a flight, which is around £600.

“I think it could be popular, especially with the young. It would be an experience, an adventure,” said Hamza Waris, who works in his family-owned travel company, Pak Travel, located in Birmingham’s Small Heath neighbourhood. “It would depend on how things were in Pakistan and in the countries along the route”.


It has been reported that that coach route will pass through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia before reaching Western Europe. Four coaches would  travel in a convoy once a fortnight.


Mr Khokher has confirmed that he is still working to make his dream become reality and said: “We have been working on the coach service which will not only promote tourism, but also provide cheaper transport solutions to Kashmiris, especially since the recent rise in air fare. It will start in March at the earliest because we are still in negotiation with the Iranian and Turkish governments. Besides, the winters will make travel difficult in Europe.”


The idea has received the backing of politicians in Birmingham. The city’s Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, whose family originally came from Mirpur, told the Birmingham Mail newspaper: “The proposal has the backing of the Kashmir government but they have been dragging their heels and haven’t really publicised it.  I think it’s a great idea that will bring the two cities closer together and be a real life experience, particularly for younger people both here and in Kashmir.”



Read more about the new coach service between Kashmir and Birmingham

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