A policeman patrols alongside a new railway track in Hairatan in northren Afghanistan. PHOTO: REUTERSISLAMABAD:
ExpressTribune: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday signed a “Joint Appeal Letter” seeking $4.8 billion loan from various International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for a railway line project connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and the Central Asian Republics.
The premier signed the letter after Uzbekistan’s Minister for Transport Makhkamov Ilkham called on him.
During the meeting, matters relating to bilateral relations, regional connectivity, and peace and security in the region were discussed and the two sides agreed to pursue Trans-Afghan railway line project “Mazar-e-Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar”.
The prime minister particularly highlighted the importance of joint efforts to promote regional connectivity for economic growth and development of the region.
PM Imran observed that “Pakistani seaports provided a great opportunity to Central Asian States for access to the Indian Ocean.”
The official statement noted that PM Imran “supported Uzbek efforts to secure financing for the project by signing Joint Appeal Letter addressed to the Heads of various International Financial Institutions (IFIs) by Heads of State/Government of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The premier maintained he had long underlined that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
He highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and underscored that an inclusive and broad-based political solution would help the establishment of durable peace and stability and contribute to regional connectivity, progress and prosperity.
He observed that Pakistan’s fraternal ties with Uzbekistan were based on common religious, historic and cultural bonds and reaffirmed the commitment to further deepen bilateral cooperation in all spheres.
PM recalled his last meeting with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and stated that Pakistan looked forward to his visit at the earliest convenience.
He also underlined Pakistan’s resolve to forge closer ties with Central Asia, covering trade, investments, energy, and people-to-people contacts.
The Uzbek transport minister conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes of the Uzbek president and noted that President Mirziyoyev was looking forward to visiting Pakistan.
On behalf of President Mirziyoyev, he also reiterated the invitation to the PM to visit Uzbekistan and reaffirmed the desire to have deeper bilateral trade and economic ties as well as enhanced connectivity with Pakistan.
Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati and Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood were present during the meeting.
The Uzbek minister is on a one-day visit to Islamabad to discuss in detail rail and road cooperation from Central Asia to Pakistani seaports.
With the funds raised under the joint appeal, a 573-km long railway link will be constructed. The shortest economic track would run from Peshawar to Kabul and from Kabul to Uzbekistan via Mazar-e-Sharif and the route will have “27 stations, 912 artificial constructions and 7 tunnels” to facilitate cargo movement.