Pakistan-China Rail Link Planned
April 23 (EIRNS)--A potential Pakistan-China rail link was emphasized by visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Beijing April 18, and on April 21, Pakistani Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that studies for the rail line will be completed already this year, during meetings with visiting China National Machinery Corporation vice president Zhao Jun in Islamabad. This rail way would be an engineering feat to rival the Chinese railroad to Tibet: under feasibility study is a possible 750-km rail link between the city of Havelian, the westernmost end of the famous Karakoram highway, and 4,693-meter-high Khunjerab Pass at the Pakistan-China border. This pass is the highest paved international connection in the world.
According to Xinhua and the News Network International Pakistan, at the Communist Party School in Beijing, Shaukat Aziz said that the Pakistan-China partnership goes back to the "fabled Silk Route," and China's classic Journey to the West. "Pakistan is fast transforming into an economic, energy, trade and communications hub linking the neighbouring regions of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.. Pakistan provides the shortest access to the sea for Western China. Our friendship highway over the Karakoram and road and rail networks to our deep water ports at the Arabian Sea are fast becoming a conduit for trade and energy transactions.. The Karakoram Highway is being upgraded. Feasibility studies are being undertaken to establish Pakistan-China rail links."
On April 21, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that work on the Quetta-Kandhar (Pakistan-Afghanistan) and Taftan-Zahidan (Pakistan-Iran) sections of Pakistan's new rail links to the rest of the world is already underway. Pakistani President Musharraf wants the country to become the "economic bridge" between Asia and Europe via sea, road and rail networks, Pakistan's News Network International reported April 22. The minister invited Chinese Railways to invest in Pakistan, to upgrade its signalling systems and build high speed rail lines. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said Pakistan wants to build a high-speed rail link between Lahore and Rawalpindi, which he said would be the first ever project in South Asia.