Pakistan and Uzbekistan agree to further expedite Trans Afghan Railway project

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Uzbekistan Tuesday agreed to further expedite the Trans Afghan Railway project linking Central Asian States to the seaports of Karachi, Gwadar and Bin Qasim through Afghanistan.

A delegation led by Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Foreign Trade, Mr. Sardor Umurzakov held a meeting with Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati, Minister for Food Security and Research Fakhar Imam and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood here on Tuesday.

The Uzbek delegation included Uzbek Minister of Transport, Minister of Agriculture, First Deputy Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Pakistan.

During the meeting, progress on Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar Railway project (Trans Afghan Railways) was discussed.

All stakeholders on behalf of the Government of Pakistan and Republic of Uzbekistan present during the meeting agreed on the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for further expediting the project.

The Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar rail link is one of the designated rail corridor defined and planned under the CAREC Railways Strategy. This new Railway line will provide central Asia access to the Pakistani seaports of Karachi, Bin Qasim and Gwadar by connecting the central Asian and Eurasian railway systems.

The major infrastructure development project will provide a life line support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and will help towards reducing the humanitarian crises building up in Afghanistan.

The project was initially discussed during the visit of Uzbekistan Deputy PM Sardor Umur Zakov to Pakistan on September 10, 2020.

The Head of the States of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed joint appeal letter to the World Bank for financing the project on 27th December, 2020.

Uzbekistan hosted the First trilateral Joint Working Group on 1-3 February 2021 at Tashkant where Roadmap was agreed and signed by three countries Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afganistan.

Pakistan Railways is already conducting feasibility study of new Rail link from Peshawar to Jalalabad which will be completed shortly. It has been agreed by the three countries that Pakistan side will share the findings of the feasibility study with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

After the new government in Afghanistan, this project was discussed by Uzbekistan and Pakistan with the new government. All Three countries decided to go ahead with the project activities.

In the meeting conducted at Tashkent on 07 December 2021, Uzbekistan and Pakistan agreed to study carefully and conduct visual expeditions of the routes inside Afghanistan.

The Uzbek side shared a draft version of a detailed Action Plan for the implementation of the first stage on the construction of the Trans Afghan Railway line.

Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati met with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Transport Makhkamov Ilkhom Rustamovich on sidelines of OIC on 19 December 2021 to discuss the implementation of trilateral understanding on the construction of Trans Afghan Railway between Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul, Jalalbad, Torkham and Peshawar.

A delegation from Pakistan visited Uzbekistan and met with representatives of Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan on 15 February 2022 to further discuss steps for the practical implementation of the project. During the discussion, the Pakistani side expressed its readiness to start for field expeditions by March 15 of this year.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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