ISLAMABAD: Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim said Tuesday that Pakistan’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organization will further strengthens its relations with the member states of the organization.
During a meeting with Secretary General of SCO Rashid Alimov who called on him here, the minister said that expansion of road infrastructure in SCO would help bring economic, political stability in the region and help improve security situation of the regional countries. He said Pakistan shared with SCO and its members, deep-rooted historical and cultural links and strong economic and strategic relations.
Welcoming the SCO secretary General he said that Pakistan was second home for him and his visit will prove fruitful. Secretary General SCO Rashid Alimov said that communications and transport sector was one of the key areas in enhancement of mutual cooperation among the SCO member states. He said that the annual summit of the member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan witnessed the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States on the Facilitation of International Road Transport. This road transport facilitation agreement is expected to significantly promote regional and sub regional connectivity and integration, in particular revitalization of the ancient Silk Road, he remarked.
The Agreement opens more than 15,000 km of the Asian Highway routes for transport operation and services, with the longest route stretching more than 9,000 km from Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation to Lianyungang, China. The Agreement will also develop landlocked Central Asia’s access to sea by road through China and Russian Federation. Secretary Communications Furqan Bahadur Khan said that Pakistan was ready to further strengthen its relations with SCO states. He said that key agreement was on transports sector its working group meetings are being held regularly.
He said that Pakistan was ready to take all measures to further expand cooperation with all member states. He said that present government was focusing on transport sector as it was vital link in enhancing exports. About China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said that it was flagship project and provides a natural link with SCO states. Later Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Jawad Rafiq Malik gave a briefing about the road infrastructure projects in the country.
While apprising the SCO Secretary General about the road infrastructure development plan initiated by present government in the country, he said that although China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a bilateral project in nature but it could integrate people of South Asia, China and Central Asia for shared goals of development and prosperity.
He informed the meeting that under the early harvest CPEC projects include 118 km Thakot-Havelian project to be completed in March 2020 and 392 km Sukkur-Multan Motorway likely to be completed by August next year. He informed that three more projects 136 km Raikot-Thakot section of Karakoram Highway, 210 km Yarik-Zhob road and 110 km Khuzdar-Basima section.
He said that NHA was also planning to dualise Peshawar-Jalalabad Highway and start work on Quetta-Kandhar road and link Iran with Gwadar through Naukundi-Mashkhel-Panjgoor Highway. He said when the present government came to power in 2013 only 582 km motorway was functional but it started work on 1700 km new motorway projects which would become operational by end of 2019 enhancing the total length of motorways to 2400 km. About Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), he said Pakistan has unique geographic location – at the crossroads of Central Asia, the People’s Republic of China, and South Asia and provides a unique potential and opportunity for the country to become a regional transport and trade hub.