Friday, 27, January, 2023

Pakistan is seeking to build an $8.2 billion rail link with Uzbekistan as it pushes to enhance linkages with Central Asian states.

This was disclosed on Monday during a meeting of the Pakistani Senate Standing Committee on Railways. 

The meeting was chaired by Senatre Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi. The meeting was attended by Senator Dost Muhammad, Senator Shahadat Awan, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, Railways Ministry Secretary Zafar Ranjha and other concerned officers.

During the meeting Ranjha said that the government is deliberating on an Afghan Transit project which will link Pakistan with Uzbekistan.

The project will cost around $8.2 billion.

The committee directed the ministry to provide complete briefing on the said project in the next meeting.

Peshawar-Torkham link

Earlier, the meeting commenced with deliberation on a question raised by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad regarding the restoration of 59 kilometer-long railway track between Peshawar and Torkham.

Senator Ahmad was of opinion that this railway track was not only important for trade activities but also holds historical significance.

He said that the railway track had been built in 1926 and remained operational until 2007, when it was washed away by floods.

He lamented that nothing had been done to restore the track.

Ranjha told the the committee that restoration work on the track would cost around Rs1.982 billion. He added that the ministry lacked sufficient funds to undertake such a project.

However, he said that the ministry was in negotiations with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government for financing the project and that Pesahwar was nearly convinced.

One complication, he said, was that a portion of the track falls within the vicinity of the Pesahwar Airport which creates a hurdle in restoration work. The committee chair decided to refer the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Defence for further deliberation for finding a way forward.

The senate committee also suggested that the federal railways ministry seek input from the tourism ministry on the project to exploit its potential from a tourism perspective.

The committee deferred the deliberations on the matter until the next meeting.

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