For all the negative crap in the media about Pakistan, you wouldn’t know news from reality until you kept your eye on the massive economic and infrastructure deals Pakistan’s been busy inking! Pakistan and Turkey, in particular, have really stepped up joint projects in the recent past. I’ve been trying to keep up with various civil and military initiatives that the two countries are undertaking and it’s getting to be quite a list. For example, the upgradation of Pakistan Air Force F-16 jets in Turkey and the potential purchase of ATAK T-129 gunship helicopters from Turkey’s TAI Aselsan corporation are just two examples. Collaboration on the construction of Pakistan’s huge Bhasha Hydroelectric Dam and expansion of Turkish banks into Pakistan are two others.
However, today’s announcements trumps everything else. Meeting with President Zardari in Ankara, President Abdullah Gul announced that Pakistan, Iran and Turkey will be working on an over $20B project to significantly uprade the rail infrastructure in all three countries and create a single integrated line that will connect Pakistan directly with the EU.
By avoiding the slow ocean route and the very expensive aerial route, rail links will open new avenues of cooperation and growth for companies in all three countries. Not only will this link give a significant boost to Pak-Turk trade, but also to Pak-Iran economic ties. In fact, this would be the third significant infrastructure project Pakistan has embarked on that involves Iran. The first being the supply of electricity via Iranian power plants to several parts of Baluchistan, next in line is the massive Iran Pakistan (soon to be IPC, or Iran Pakistan China) oil pipeline project and now this rail initiative.
Now if only India would work diligently towards settling its outstanding issues with Pakistan. Perhaps it too could benefit from the Iran Pakistan pipeline, and direct rail links to the EU!
Here’s more from The News:
A comprehensive presentation was given to the Pakistani and Turkish Presidents on the 6,566 kilometres Rail project from Islamabad to Istanbul, via Tehran, with 1,990 kilometres track situated in Pakistan, 2,570 kilometres in Iran and 2,006 kilometres in Turkey.
“This rail link will strengthen Pakistan’s economy as well as people to people ties with not only brotherly Muslim countries but also onwards to Europe”, remarked President Zardari who floated the Islamabad-Istanbul cargo train idea last year when an experimental train was run on the route on his initiative on August 14.