ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has finalised various projects concerning road and rail link for boosting trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian states.

Official documents show that a feasibility study will be conducted on the link road between Tajikistan and Pakistan. This issue has already been raised with Afghanistan and a response is still awaited from Kabul.

Under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), Sherkhan-Ninjpayan border route has been identified by Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a corridor for trade. The Afghan Chamber of Commerce will prepare a proposal for establishing a joint transport company by February 2016.

The proposal will be discussed and approved at the Afghanistan-Pakistan joint committee on bus service and Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry for goods transport. On these two issues, a meeting will be held in Kabul soon.

According to the documents, an additional carriageway on Torkham-Jalalabad road will be completed by December 2016. However, completion of the project has been linked with adequate security for the project from the Afghan government.

Regarding Peshawar-Kabul Motorway, a PC-II of Rs90 million has been approved by the NHA for feasibility study. Afghanistan has been requested to hold the second meeting of focal persons to speed up work on the project.

Pakistan is also working on improving the rail link with Afghanistan for enhancing bilateral trade.

For Chaman to Spinboldak rail link, Pakistan has approved a Rs1.262 billion project. However, work will start in tandem, with the Afghan side starting construction of Kandhar-Spinboldak section. Afghanistan will complete feasibility study of the project.

For Peshawar-Jalalabad rail link, Pakistan has approved a project worth Rs76m to carry out feasibility study of the project.

Afghanistan has proposed rail connectivity between Khost and Pakistan via Miran Shah/Bannu. This route can be used for trade, transit and transport corridor. The Afghanistan government has offered to carry out pre-feasibility study of the proposed link.

Afghanistan has also proposed a new rail link from Helmand city-Bahramcha (Afghanistan) to Gwadar via Yakmuch and Panjgur which will provide the shortest economic rail connectivity for regional trade and transit between the two countries and the region. Afghanistan has offered to conduct the feasibility study of this project.

Pakistan Railways plans to connect Gwadar with the Afghan railway via Basima, Quetta and Chaman in line with the CAREC and regional connectivity framework.

The new rail line from Gwadar to Quetta has also been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2016

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