`I dream of free borders between China, Pakistan`

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said he wants to take Beijing-Islamabad friendship to the next level.

Beijing: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said he wants to take Beijing-Islamabad friendship to the "next level" by opening the borders for citizens of both the countries to travel without passports.

"I have a great dream that Chinese can travel to Pakistan and Pakistanis to China without passports in the near future.”

"The future of China and Pakistan is intertwined and history is looking forward for that time", Zardari said in an interview to Chinese state-run TV channel CCTV.

Zardari, who concluded his three-day visit to the troubled Chinese Xinjiang province that shares border with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK), said the region plays a strategic role in firming up the relationship between China and Pakistan.

Zardari had attended the first Eurasia Expo organised by China at Xinjiang`s provincial capital Urumqi.

His visit came in the backdrop of recent allegations by China that militants of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) creating unrest in Muslim Uygur majority of Xinjiang were trained in Pakistan-based terror camps.

"The recent incidents of terrorism in Xinjiang dismayed us," Zardari told China Daily.

Zardari applauded China`s efforts to fight religious extremism, which has pitted "neighbours against neighbours and friends against friends" and vowed closer cooperation with China in counter-terrorism efforts.

Xinjiang has been witnessing periodic violence with Uyghurs resenting the settlements of Chinese mainland Hans.

Over 200 people were killed and hundreds in riots that took place in 2009.

Twenty people were killed towards end of July this year in Kashghar city in attacks by ETIM militants.

Zardari said, "The region (Xinjiang) is the closest point to my border and it is where the future of Pakistan and China meets.”

"So we are hoping that the region could act as the linking point of a communication network as well as a road and railway network between the two countries."

He said he "always wanted to see this part of China", which was the most important region on the old Silk Road connecting Asia and Europe.

"Now Xinjiang will once again become the trading point," he said.

He said Pakistan already has a highway leading to Xinjiang, while a cross-border railway is on the agenda. Through such efforts, Pakistan is to become the gateway for China to enter South Asia, he said adding, “The Silk Road will be fully revived".

He said development of the western parts of China, including Xinjiang, is truly remarkable and Pakistan views Xinjiang`s development and prosperity as its own.

He also said Pakistan would emerge as a transit hub for China to transport oil from Gwader port with road and rail facilities.

As a result Chinese ships need not take circuitous journey through the South China Sea, he said.


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