The proposed route is the brainchild of Tahir Khokher, transport chief for the Mirpur region of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The route starts in the northern English city of Birmingham, where many Pakistanis from the Mirpur region live, and runs 4,000 miles through Europe, Turkey, and Iran before reaching northeastern Pakistan and ending at Mirpur.
The problem, of course, is the route itself. It runs straight through Iran and continues on to Quetta in Pakistan, which is a popular hangout for Al-Qaeda. The Kashmir region, which has been the scene of conflict between Pakistan and India since those nations were formed, isn’t exactly the safest place in the world either. A recent survey found Pakistan the seventh unfriendliest country in the world, right after Iran.
On the other hand, a trip will only cost £130 ($200), making it an awesome budget travel option for the adventurous.
The Daily Mail quotes a Birmingham Minister of Parliament expressing concerns that the route could be dangerous. There is also the question of whether it would be used as a low-cost conduit for terrorists.
Khokher says the problems with permits should be ironed out within a month. Stay tuned for more news about the 12-day bus ride through one of the toughest regions in the world.
[Photo Pakistani bus courtesy Flickr user ix4svs. One hopes the new service uses better buses than this.]