Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to Discuss Railway Project
Afghan delegation visits Pakistan to discuss Trans-Afghan Railway project
The Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) said that the director general of this authority, Bakht-ur-Rahman Sharafat, is leading a delegation that has travelled to Pakistan at the invitation of that country’s ministry of railways.
The ARA said on Twitter that it is planned that the visit will include tripartite discussions with Pakistan and Uzbekistan to discuss the start of a technical study of the Trans-Afghan Railway project connecting Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.
The project aims to boost regional connectivity and trade
The Trans-Afghan Railway project is a strategic initiative to enhance the regional connectivity and trade among the three countries and beyond. The project will link the existing railway network in Uzbekistan with the planned railway network in Pakistan, passing through several provinces in Afghanistan.
The project will provide an alternative and cheaper route for the transit of goods and passengers between Central Asia and South Asia, as well as access to the seaports of Karachi, Gwadar, and Qasim in Pakistan. The project will also support the economic development and stability of Afghanistan by creating jobs, revenues, and opportunities.
The project faces security, technical, and financial challenges
The Trans-Afghan Railway project is estimated to cost around $6 billion and cover more than 760 kilometers of railway line. The project will require a feasibility study, a detailed design, a tendering process, and a construction phase. The project will also involve complex technical issues such as the choice of gauge, alignment, and standards.
The project faces significant security challenges due to the ongoing conflict and instability in Afghanistan, especially in the areas where the railway will pass through. The project will also need to secure adequate funding from various sources, such as international donors, multilateral institutions, and private investors.
The project has received political support from the three countries
The Trans-Afghan Railway project has received strong political support from the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan. The three countries have signed several agreements and memoranda of understanding to advance the project. The three countries have also established joint offices and working groups to coordinate and facilitate the project implementation.
The project is also in line with the regional cooperation frameworks such as the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The project is expected to contribute to the regional integration and development goals of these platforms.
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