Pakistan signs letter on railway project with Uzbekistan & Afghanistan

30th Dec 2020
Pakistan signs letter on railway project with Uzbekistan & Afghanistan

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA): Pakistan signed a joint appeal letter Tuesday seeking a $4.8 billion loan from international financial institutions for a Trans-Afghan railway line project with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

The rail link would connect Pakistan and Uzbekistan via Afghanistan and later the Central Asian countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan signed the letter on behalf of Pakistan for the mega project, according to Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the prime minister on commerce and investment.

“Today, the prime minister signed a letter for a joint approach with Afghanistan & Uzbekistan for asking international financial agencies to finance the railway from Pakistan to Uzbekistan through Afghanistan. This fits well with our vision for trade and connectivity through Afghanistan to the Central Asia Republics,” Dawood tweeted.

The signing ceremony, held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad, was also attended by Uzbekistan’s Minister for Transport Makhkamov Ilkham. The joint appeal had already been signed by the presidents of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“Trade agreements with Afghanistan, currently under progress, will be followed by similar agreements with Uzbekistan. I hope to visit Uzbekistan in January 2021. Insha’Allah this will open doors for increase in our exports,” Dawood added.

Later, Ilkham also called on Prime Minister Khan and discussed matters relating to bilateral relations, regional connectivity and peace and security in the region.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said Khan underlined his country’s resolve to forge closer ties with Central Asia covering trade, investments, energy and people-to-people contacts.

Khan also highlighted the importance of joint efforts to promote regional connectivity for economic growth and development of the region and said his country’s seaports provided a great opportunity to Central Asian states for access to the Indian Ocean.

The two sides also agreed to pursue the Mazar-e-Sharif–Kabul–Peshawar Trans-Afghan railway line project. The prime minister supported Uzbek efforts to secure financing for the project by signing the joint appeal letter addressed to the heads of various international financial institutions by the heads of state/government of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier, the Uzbek minister for transport also met with Pakistan’s Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati and discussed rail and road cooperation from Central Asia to Pakistani seaports.

[Map of Pakistan showing Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Map from CIA-factbook/Public Domain]

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