LAND locked Uzbekistan has once again showed its seriousness for carrying out its trade and economic activities through ports of Gwadar and Karachi by completing the feasibility study for much touted Trans-Afghan railway project.
It has also been shared with Pakistan by the Uzbek side during a trilateral working group meeting in Islamabad.
As per report, the track with tunnels would cost $4 million per kilometre and the track from Mazar-i-Sharif to Torkham would be fully electric.
The proposed project is aimed to connect Pakistan with the Central Asian Republics. Completion of feasibility study indeed is a major development to put this strategically located project on the ground that in fact will carry immense dividends for the central Asian states as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As the Central Asian geopolitics is disturbed by Ukraine war, undertaking such transport infrastructure projects rather have become more feasible.
It in fact will turn out to be shortest and most economical route for the Uzbek freight as well as other central Asian states.
The rail line will support both passenger and freight services, and is expected to improve region’s economy and connectivity.
Opportunities are knocking at our door and we must grab them to really serve as trade hub of the region.
Implementing the project would not be without a challenge as apart from current security situation in Afghanistan, arranging funds for it to the tune of $8b will be a major issue.
It is really important that terrorist groups in Afghanistan are fully dismantled. Cooperation in this regard must be extended to the Afghan authorities by regional countries.
Then a collective effort should also be made to arrange funds from international lenders. In fact China may also be contacted for this purpose, as this will also supplement Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.
Other regional projects such as TAPI and CASA 1000 are faced with long delays. Work on them should also be accelerated to fully integrate regional economies, which will be a win-win for all.