ISLAMABAD: Beijing and Islamabad have agreed to jointly upgrade the 1,600-kilometre railway linking southern and northern Pakistan as part of a move to push forward construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said a Pakistani special envoy, China Daily reported.
“China and Pakistan have signed MoUs to increase the speed of the railway connecting Karachi and Peshawar, as well as to upgrade its signal system and railway stations,” Pakistan’s special envoy on CPEC, Zafaruddin Mahmood, told China Daily on the side-lines of the ongoing Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The deals, signed on Saturday, also include the construction of the Havelian land port, which is on the Karakoram Highway that connects Pakistan and Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The Havelian land port will serve as a transfer station where goods shipped from China can be loaded from trucks to trains after the planned China-Pakistan railway connecting Gwadar Port and Kashgar is completed, he said.
Gwadar Port in south-western Pakistan is at the Strait of Hormuz, which has been seen as pivotal to securing an energy route for China. It is currently under the management of Chinese Overseas Port Holdings Ltd.
China will also help Pakistan build an international airport in Gwadar and a highway connecting the deep-sea port to the airport. The two countries also plan to launch a satellite to improve Pakistan’s capabilities in land surveying, Mahmood said.
“Pakistan has been suffering from terrorism, which has made many foreign businesses hesitate about investing in Pakistan. After China laid out the plan for the corridor’s development, businesses from more than 50 countries and regions have been involved in CPEC-related projects because they’ve seen opportunities,” said the envoy.
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“It’s a perfect example of globalisation brought by the initiative.”
Besides bringing business potential and boosting economic development, the initiative has also improved people’s lives. China will help Pakistan increase its electricity supply by 80% in the next five years and some power plants have already started generating power, the special envoy said.