QUETTA: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has announced plans to link Pakistan with Afghanistan through railway by laying a track from Chaman to Spin Boldak, the first Afghan town near the Pak-Afghan border.
He disclosed this while speaking at a press conference after arriving in Quetta on a two-day visit on Thursday.
He said that in the first phase Pakistan would lay around 11km-long railway track from Chaman to Spin Boldak, adding that a survey had been completed in this regard and preparation for PC-1 of the project was in progress.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and senior officials of Pakistan Railways were present on the occasion.
Says the Chaman-Spin Boldak service can later be extended to Kandahar
Mr Rashid further said that after construction of the railway track between Chaman and the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak, Pakistan would be ready to extend the railway track from Spin Boldak to Kandahar if the Afghan government expressed its willingness.
He said that linking Chaman with Spin Boldak through rail would further promote trade between the two neighbouring countries.
Referring to the government’s decision to restart the Quetta-Chaman passenger train, the railways minister said that it was running successfully and Pakistan Railways had decided to hand over the operation of the Quetta-Chaman train to the private sector.
Talking about restoration of the train service between Sibi and Harnai, he said that all arrangements had been completed to restore the train service. Work on the Sibi-Harnai track had been completed and all stations along the route had now been renovated, he said, adding that soon after receiving security clearance the train service would be launched.
In reply to a question, he said there was a plan to resume services of more passenger trains from Quetta, but due to Covid-19 a large number of people were avoiding travelling through trains and planes.
The minister said Pakistan Railways had launched many freight trains across the country and was earning income from them.
Mr Rashid criticised the opposition’s alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement, saying that its leaders were playing with the lives of the people by holding public gatherings at a time when the cases of Covid-19 were increasing.
He said the opposition should understand that it could not remove the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government through its public gatherings or agitation. The Imran Khan government, he added, would complete its five-year term.
He said the people of the country had rejected the politics of the opposition parties.
Answering another question, he said that politicians never closed the door of negotiations, adding that political parties should hold talks for resolving issues being faced by the country.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2020