Awaiting students call for resumption of Pak- China bus service
ISLAMABAD, July 29 (Gwadar Pro) - The Pakistani students studying in Chinese universities, who got stranded due to COVID-19 pandemic, call for resumption of Pak- China bus service as many of them are unable to afford the over-priced air tickets to China.
Most of them consider reopening of Khunjerab border and resumption of Pak- China bus service as the only solution for their return to China.
Upon inquiring Ji Rong, Counsellor Department of Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China said, “The Chinese government may study the possibility of resuming Pak- China bus service if Pakistani side formally raises the request”.
The bus service between Pakistan and China started in 2018, which aimed to facilitate tourists as part of an initiative to connect both countries via road under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The service was later suspended due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The one-way fare was Rs13,000, while a round trip costed Rs23,000 only.
One PhD candidate from Pakistan said he received a call at the beginning of June from the Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission informing him that he was one of 251 students shortlisted to return China.
He was told to contact his university and apply for a visa, but was shocked to learn the price of the flight, which he said was specifically chartered for the students.
According to him only 104 of the 251 selected students were able to pay for the flight. Those that couldn’t afford it have lost their chance to return.
Fayyaz Ahmed one of the students who was studying mechanical engineering in China said that it’s the responsibility of the state to speed up the process so that all students should return before this September. We are eagerly waiting to return asap.
Waqas, another student, said that governments of both the countries should increase the flights ratio as the current fares are too expensive and students might not be able to pay.
On 20th June 2022, the first batch of 90 Pakistani students returned to China on a special chartered flight to continue their on-campus studies.