To build a Trans-Afghan railway link for connecting with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Pakistan signed a joint appeal letter on Tuesday for gaining an amount of $ 4.8 billion in loans from international financial sources, Anadolu reported. This railway would link Pakistan with Uzbekistan through Afghanistan and then the Central Asian states.
Abdul Razak Dawood, who is an advisor on commerce and investment to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the letter for the mega project was signed by Khan himself, on behalf of Pakistan.
Held at the Prime Minister’s office, Islamabad, Ilkham Makhkamov who is Uzbekistan’s Minister of Transport was present for the signing ceremony of the project. The presidents of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan already signed the joint appeal letter.
To discuss issues of bilateral concerns, peace, stability, and regional connectivity, Makhkamov called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. Office of the Prime Minister in a statement stated that Khan highlighted Pakistan’s will to maintain cordial relations with Central Asian states, in aspects ranging from investment and trade, energy sector, and Track II diplomacy.
In addition, Khan also highlighted joint efforts as important means to enhance regional connectivity for the development of the region and economic sector and Pakistan’s seaports which provide an opportunity for connecting Central Asian states to the Indian Ocean.
Both countries also agreed upon pursuing the Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar Trans-Afghan railway link initiative. Prime Minister Khan backed Uzbekistan’s efforts to gain financial support for the project through a joint appeal letter which was sent to different international financial institutions by the Heads of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.
Prior to this, the Uzbek Minister of Transport met with Azam Khan Swati, Pakistan’s Minister for railways, and highlighted connectivity of road and rail from Central Asia to the seaports of Pakistan.
Intra-regional connectivity is mandatory for harmony and cordial relations. It makes states interdependent which reduces chances of conflict and rises cooperation. To link South and Central Asian states, peaceful Afghanistan is the only way to its success. The current ongoing Afghan Peace Process has created hopes in the region for connectivity and development, importantly, Islamabad has played a crucial role in bringing all the actors to the table to discuss, rather than competing on military fronts.
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