ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Tajikistan have agreed to establish railway connectivity via Afghanistan with a view to boosting trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Tajikistan’s Ambassador Sherali S. Jononov held a meeting with Railways Minister Saad Rafiq on Wednesday to discuss matters relating to Pak-Tajik rail cooperation.

The ambassador said Pakistan was like a bridge for the Central Asian countries to establish trade links with the rest of the world.

All Central Asian countries were interested to be connected through the Gwadar port, he said.

He said connectivity was the basis of regional cooperation for Pakistan and other countries, including Afghan­is­tan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, particularly in the context of economic growth.

Mr Rafiq said he believed that a railway track between Torkham and Kabul, which would be later extended to Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries, would be able to usher in a new era of development for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Railway connectivity through Afghanistan was vital for cooperation with Central Asia, he said.

The minister informed the envoy that Pakistan would soon complete the feasibility study on the Peshawar-Jalalabad railway track.

Spin Boldak track

The government is also taking an initiative to complete the 11km track between Chaman and Spin Boldak. It will be funded under the prime minister’s package for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

It is learnt that land has been acquired from Wesh border near Chaman up to Spin Boldak in Afghanistan to lay the track.

The feasibility study for the extension of the existing railway line to Chaman across the border to Spin Boldak has been completed.

The railways minister said the Central Asia Regional Econ­omic Cooperation (Carec) programme was playing an important role in expanding trade and economic relations among the countries in the region.

A ‘Railway strategy for Car­ec’ (2017-30) serves as a gui­ding document for the long-term development of rail­ways. The strategy was jointly developed by Carec cou­ntries’ representatives in cooperation with development partners, railway operators, stakeholders and experts.

The strategy equips the region’s railways to better capture evolving trade flows and contribute to regional economic development.

Published in Dawn November 24th, 2016

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