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جمعرات، 8 جولائی، 2010

China's plan to build a drail link with Pakistan

President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese President Hu Jintao shake hands as Zardari’s daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa stand behind, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday.
Pakistan and China on Wednesday reaffirmed at the highest level to strengthen strategic relationship between the two countries, increase the level of economic cooperation by an order of magnitude and take concrete measures to further bring their peoples closer.

As a measure of this reiteration the two countries signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation and four MoUs witnessed by the two presidents and a pledge of 50 million yuan grant by China to new projects in Pakistan.

"The two countries have worked together and will continue to work together to further deepen the people-to-people contacts. China is a friend and a strategic partner committed to the promotion of stability and economic progress of Pakistan" is how President Hu Jintao summed up the strategic relations.

President Zardari responded by saying, "It is our belief that Pakistan can act as a force multiplier for China and we will continue to work towards this end".

The reiteration to strengthen political, economic, security relations and people-to-people contacts was made on Wednesday in the Great Hall of People in Beijing where the two presidents met; first on a one-on-one basis and later along with their delegations followed by a banquet by President Hu Jintao.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said that the one-on-one meeting that was scheduled for 30 minutes initially continued for one hour during which the two leaders discussed a host of issues relating to strategic partnership reviewing the steps taken thus far and charting also the future course of action.

Bilateral relations, situation in the region and international relations also came under discussion during the one-on-one meeting followed by delegation level meeting that was dominated by specific issues of economic cooperation and developing soft power to boost the ties between the two countries.

President Hu Jintao reaffirmed China's support to Pakistan in its fight against militancy saying also that China deeply appreciated the struggle the people and government of Pakistan were waging against the militants.

He said the Chinese government was determined to make the relationship "more vibrant". He said that China valued Pakistan's support to it on regional and international forums. China will continue to support Pakistan at various multilateral forums like SAARC and SCO, he added.

Addressing President Zardari, the Chinese President said, "You are old friend. You have paid five visits to China and contributed in great measure to the growth of relations between the two countries. Your trip will further consolidate our strategic partnership to a higher level".

President Hu Jintao also appreciated Pakistan's one-China policy.

Hu Jintao said that China had become Pakistan's second largest trading partner and pledged to make "steady progress in cooperation with Pakistan in energy, telecom sectors, Neelum-Jhelum project and Pakistan telecommunication satellite project".

Hina Rabbani Khar signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation on the occasion. Instruments of ratification were also exchanged as a follow-up of the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the two countries.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of cooperation between Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and China Radio International for Urdu service broadcasts in selected Pakistani cities on FM channel was also signed by Ambassador Masood Khan and head of the China Radio International (CRI). Three other MoUs pertaining to the fields of health, geological survey, and agriculture were also signed on the occasion.

Putting the Silk road on rails will be seminal event and transformative event which will fundamentally change the geography of the border between Pakistan and China. The Trans-Karakoram Rial line has moved beyond the feasibility stage and has now moved to the phase of “rubber meets the road”. The last time the Pakistani Rial officials visited China they were astounded by the amount of research the Chinese side had done on the project. The plan was originally proposed in 2004 and there has been tremendous progress on this line.

Not only will the rial line link Pakistan and China, it will also be expanded and will ink up Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the other Central Asia Republics, hooking up the Asia Rialway which reaches Europe.

  • The 700 km rail link has been planned between Kashgar in China and Havelian in Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain ranges and the 4000 metre high Khunjareb pass in Pakistan.
  • During the 1970s, it built the Karakoram highway between Xinjiang and northern Pakistan.
  • Then, the railroad that connected the rest of China to TIbet’s capital city Lhasa. China now wants to extend this railroad right up to Nepal.
  • And now, the 700 km rail link from Kashgar in Xinjiang province to Havelian near Rawalpindi in northern Pakistan through Karakoram in Pakistan
  • After completing Havelian-Khunjerab track, China would link with Pakistan’s Gawadar Port.

This rail line is not the only one being planned. Rail lines are also being built to Dushambe and to Ferghana. The Turks, Iranians and the Pakistanis are also linking up Islamabad to Ankara via Tehran. Pakistani goods can thus travel to Europe without any hindrance, and Chinese and Central Asian goods can travel down to the warm waters of the Arabian sea.

The Chinese plans, according to reports, is to build the rail link to Pakistan and reach the Arabian sea through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a feasibility study on building the Karakoram railway line is expected to be signed between Beijing and Islamabad during President Asif Ali Zardari’s current, ongoing visit to China. Pakistan’s General Manager Railways (operation) Ishfaq Khattak has joined Mr Zardari’s delegation and is expected to be a key player in this fantastic venture.

The pre-feasibility study has already been completed by two international consulting companies. The 628 km railway track is would connect all major cities on the Pakistani side, thus the rail line would hook up Kashgar to Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Sarghoda, Faisalabad, Karachi and of course Gwader. An international consortium would be working on the line.

Bharat is of course chagrined. Delhi’s concerns have all been ignored by the two countries.

The ever growing friendship and cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad is now once agian reaching new heights. The plan to build the rail link follows the Sino-Pakistan Civilian Nuclear deal.

Russia is also bulding roads and rial systems connecting Dushambe and Ferghana with Islamabad.

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