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Pakistan, China to build rail project to link Karachi with Peshawar

  • Published
    29th Oct, 2022
Context

With Pakistan’s Prime Minister's Visit to China for the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting, both countries have agreed to go ahead with the USD 10 billion Karachi to Peshawar rail line agreement as a key part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

About

Linking Karachi to Peshawar Rail line:

  • The Karachi-Peshawar rail line is one of four main railway lines in Pakistan, operated and maintained by Pakistan Railways.
  • The line begins from Karachi City station or Kiamari station and ends at Peshawar Cantonment Station.
  • The total length of this railway line is 1,687 kilometers (1,048 mi).
  • There are 184 railway stations from Kamari to Peshawar Cantonment on this line.
  • The line serves as the main passenger and freight line of the country. 75% of the country's cargo and passenger traffic uses the line.
  • The line is currently undergoing a six-year 1286.68 billion (US$5.6 billion) upgrade and renovation as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with average rail speeds expected to be doubled to 160 kilometers per hour upon completion.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):

  • It was launched in 2013 with the aim to build a corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport, and industrial cooperation.

The massive infrastructure project connecting China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province has raised concerns of huge Chinese debt on Pakistan’s fledgling economy, though China has recently played down the debt concerns.

  • CPEC is part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The CPEC was planned to be completed in three phases. The first phase of CPEC was to remove key economic bottlenecks namely energy and infrastructure.
  • The current phase is about industrialization, socio-economic and agricultural cooperation, and promoting business and consolidating developments.

Future aspirations of Pakistan with China:

  • The Pakistani government has made a number of new proposals that include post-disaster reconstruction, strengthening of digital investment in the economy, initiatives for global development, and an agreement between geological survey institutions of the two countries and cooperation to develop the export potential of Pakistan.

Upcoming Projects:

  • The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) 
  • Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur Section)

India’s Sovereignty Argument:

  • India has repeatedly registered its protests over CPEC, saying it is in violation of its sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) - an Indian Territory illegally occupied by Pakistan.
  • It also violates the Party agreement and used the conflicted region of any other country’s territory to build infrastructure without its consent.
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