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Railway project connecting Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan termed ‘game-changer’

Updated 27 Mar, 2022
Board of Investment Chairman Muhammad Azfar Ahsan said the CPEC extension could potentially help Afghanistan become part of the Belt and Road Initiative. AFP/File
Board of Investment Chairman Muhammad Azfar Ahsan said the CPEC extension could potentially help Afghanistan become part of the Belt and Road Initiative. AFP/File

A trilateral working meeting between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan was held in Termez on the 600kms long railway line project between Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan (Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railroad) Saturday.

Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment (BoI) Muhammad Azfar Ahsan participated in the meeting as head of a delegation from Pakistan.

Ahsan expounded that the railway line project between Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan would prove to be a game-changer for the region.

The chairman BoI appreciated the Uzbek government for organizing the trilateral meeting between three key players of the region aimed to strengthen linkage and connectivity among the countries.

He shared that he was positive that this forum would translate into a new level of global economic connectivity and would prove to be a game-changer for the region.

During the session, available conditions of cargo transportation in Pakistan and proposals for increasing the volume of traffic between the three countries were discussed from Pakistan’s side.

Highlighting Pakistan’s strategic location, the chairman shared that the route to Pakistan has received the most attention owing to its feasibility.

In this regard, the Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project could prove to be a game-changer for the future of the region.

Investment Minister and Chairman BOI said that Pakistan and Uzbekistan are poised to play a major role in the future political and economic disposition of the region.

He stressed that both countries are fortunate to be led by leaders who have the vision, will, and determination to work together to steer their countries and the region towards a brighter future.

He underscored that geography makes Pakistan the shortest, most economical, and easiest land connectivity route for Central Asia to the Arabian Sea, both for Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

He stressed that Afghanistan is termed the “heart of Asia”, as it connects different regions, especially Central Asia, via Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, South Asia via Pakistan and the Middle East, via Iran.

Elaborating on the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he added that the extension could potentially help Afghanistan become part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Azfar expounded that connectivity has become a defining feature of the modern economy, and Central Asia needs to develop southern trade links to complement existing routes to the north, east, and west.

Other participants and speakers included Governor of Surkhandarya region Bobolov To’ra Abdievich, Minister of Transport of Uzbekistan, Ilkhom Makhkamov, Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Afghanistan, Akbar Jan Polad, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade, Choriyev Otabek Bobomuratovich.

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on March 27, 2022.