Pakistan to sign railway accord connecting it with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan: minister

Published December 24, 2020
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati speaks to the media in Lahore on Sunday. — PID
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati speaks to the media in Lahore on Sunday. — PID

Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said on Thursday Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon sign an agreement for a trilateral railway project connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Talking to DawnNewsTV, Swati revealed that the project, which was conceived in 2018, included both passenger and cargo trains going between the three countries. He said the project was made possible through a $4.5 billion initiative under the auspices of the World Bank.

"Prime minister will sign the project in a day or two during the visit of a delegation from Uzbekistan, which will include either the deputy prime minister or the transport minister," said Swati. He added that the accord had already been signed by the presidents of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Swati termed the agreement on the project the "best news of 2020" for the three countries because of the opportunities it would provide for transport, trade and cargo.

"A whole corridor to the Central Asian republics will be opened up," said Swati, highlighting that the potential connections with parts of Russia also constituted an important aspect of the rail linkages.

Speaking on the routes which Pakistan would operate, the minister said, "Pakistan will do its job from Peshawar to Torkham. Afghanistan and Uzbekistan will operate the project beyond Torkham."

Swati said both passenger and cargo trains would operate, and emphasised that the project would deploy "high speed trains" only.

Swati was appointed minister for railways recently as part of a cabinet reshuffle, replacing Sheikh Rashid, who is now the interior minister.

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