KARACHI: The government has planned to install and upgrade railway tracks under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Dawn.com reported on Sunday.

Under the plan, a railway line will be developed from Gwadar to Quetta and Jacobabad via Besima tehsil in Balochistan and a 560km track will be laid from Bostan to Kotla Jam on the main line-II via Zhob and Dera Ismail Khan and another 682km track will be laid from Havelian to Khunjerab, said the report quoting Radio Pakistan’s website.

The upgradation of 1,872km track from Karachi to Peshawar via Kotri, Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi (including Taxila-Havelian) — along with dualisation of the track from Shahdara to Peshawar — will also be carried out.

According to the report, 1,254 kilometres of railway track from Kotri to Attock City via Dadu, Larkana, Jacobabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bhakkar and Kundian will be upgraded.

The project will make Gwadar a vital link in China’s supply chain

The CPEC is a 3,000km-long network of roads, railway tracks and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city in China’s Xinjiang region.

Proposed by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An agreement on the corridor was signed by the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping’s visit.

The CPEC will revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.

The project is based on China’s strategy to develop its western region and Pakistan’s focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programmes.

It involves construction of roads and railway tracks, including upgradation of the 1,300km Karakoram Highway, which connects China with Pakistan through the Karakoram mountains.

The CPEC will reduce China’s routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometres, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China’s supply chain.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2015