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ISLAMABAD: A high-level meeting of Pakistan, Russia, and Central Asian Republics (CARs) is likely to be held on April 23-24, 2024 to discuss the financing of the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (UAP) rail project, well-informed sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Business Recorder.

This was revealed at a meeting of the Afghanistan CARs/Azerbaijan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (ACICC) presided over by the Foreign Affairs secretary.

On the UAP rail project, the representative of the Ministry of Railways informed that the roadshow was held in Tashkent on February 6, 2024, attended by Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar to discuss matters of financing.

Inter-regional rail track finalized to connect Pak, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan

Pakistan informed that USD 1 million has already been spent on pre-feasibility study and a detailed report has been prepared by E&Y Consultants. It would be better to start the construction work instead of initiating another feasibility study.

However, Qatar requested a fresh feasibility study due to certain missing details during the online meeting held on February 21, 2024.

The representative apprised that a meeting of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Abu Dhabi Ports was also held at Tashkent on February 20, 2024. According to Uzbekistan, Abu Dhabi Ports agreed to and signed an MoU for financing the feasibility study.

Pakistan and Qatar have requested furnishing the minutes of the meeting and MoU as they were not part of the meeting. The next meeting of Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Belarus, Russia, and other Central Asian Countries is planned in Tashkent on 23-24 Apt 2024 to discuss financing of the project.

The representative of the Ministry of PD&SI informed that ECNEC has approved the 2nd Revised PC-1 with a total cost of PKR 17.140 billion on February 7, 2024. The Ministry of Communications may release allocated funds of Rs1 billion to FWO to mobilise.

The representative of FWO said that the requirement of funds for the current FY is Rs2 billion and for FY 2024-25 is Rs8 billion. He also shared the budgetary proposals for balance works, balance work schedule and amendment number 3 forwarded to NHA on March 7, 2024, to conclude the agreement. He also requested for meeting with the Afghan Charge d’ Affairs to facilitate workers’ long-term visas and immigration at Torkham. The Afghan authorities in Kabul may also be apprised of the project resumption.

The representative of the Ministry of Communications said that Rs1 billion can be immediately released to FWO in the current FY, however, the balance of Rs1billion will be released later due to financial constraints.

The Chair directed that FWO mobilise its resources to start work with the available funds. The Ministry of Communications may be requested to release Rs1 billion to FWO and re-appropriate an additional Rs1 billion from their allocation of the current FY at the earliest.

The Ministry of Communications may also forward budgetary demand for the project for FY 2024-25 to the Ministry of PD&SI.

He further directed that the Ministry of Communications forward the agenda, two sets of dates and composition to MoFA under intimation to ACICC. The MoFA and Pakistan Embassy in Kabul to coordinate and arrange the proposed meetings.

The Chair directed that the Ministry of Railways share MoU of February 20, 2024, and the outcome of the meeting being held on 23-24 April 2024 with ACICC.

During the discussion on Karachi-Chaman-Spin Boldak-Kandahar Railway line, the representative of the Ministry of Railways informed that the Afghan Railways Authority (ARA) is planning to hold a bilateral meeting to discuss experts visit for field expedition from Chaman to Kandahar, proposed terminal design, gauge parameters, laying of track and feasibility study.

However, ARA has informed that the right of way up to Spin Boldak is their internal issue and will be resolved accordingly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KhanRA Apr 05, 2024 07:27am
How long can we maintain this delusion of Afghanistan being a transit corridor for growth, rather than the reality that it’s an exporter of terrorism and misery?
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Tariq Qurashi Apr 05, 2024 12:28pm
This will bring the sea thousands of kilometers closer to many land locked countries, and accelerate economic growth and trade. It will be a game changer that unfortunately many will try to sabotage.
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Danial Apr 05, 2024 02:04pm
As soon as Afghanistan is able to integrate with the economic frameworks, the better it will be for regional stability and higher trade with interconnected economies.
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Kaleem Apr 07, 2024 07:27pm
Given the state of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the project seems doomed from the start.
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Mullah Umer Apr 08, 2024 04:53am
@KhanRA, until ignorant West don't see that it's the super powers,first SU & then US, the policies & actions of whom did not leave any option for a common man,but to carry weapon & fight invaders
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