Pakistan mapping transit route between South, Central Asia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is developing an international standards infrastructure to make Pakistan as the most attractive and shortest transit route between South and Central Asia, said Federal Minister for Communications Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan.

The minister said this while giving a keynote speech at 2nd ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) Transport Ministers Meeting being held in Chengdu, China, from October 24–27, according to statement received here on Thursday.

The minister said the government and the people of Pakistan are determined to transform country into a developed, industrialised, just and knowledge-based economy by using its geo-political location and by enhancing economic partnership particularly in the region.

He informed the seminar participants the government of Pakistan has launched National Trade Corridor Improvement Programme (NTCIP) to improve transport infrastructure and improve regional connectivity. This programme, with an investment cost of $6-9 billion, will reduce present travel time by 50 percent and operating cost by 10 percent. With the introduction of reforms supplemented by a strong investment programme, the minister added, NTCIP has evolved a strategic framework to meet the challenges: modernise and streamline trade and transport logistics, practices and customs; improve port efficiency, reduce the costs for port users and enhance port management accountability; create a commercial and accountable environment in Pakistan Railways; modernise the trucking industry; sustain delivery of an efficient, safe and reliable National Highways System; develop along NTC, the energy corridor linking China and Afghanistan/CARs.

Under an overall improvement programme border crossing are also being upgraded to international standards.

He said Pakistan has signed several bilateral agreements and is signatory of all important regional and international framework agreements to facilitate regional and transit trade. The minister said that Pakistan has signed Bilateral Road Transport Agreements with Afghanistan, China, Iran and India under which goods and passenger transport services are being operated. Agreements with Republics of Uzbekistan and Turkey in the field of Road Transport have also been signed, he added, and are being operationalized in the near future. Bus services are also being operated between Pakistan and India as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan, he told.

At the end of the meeting, Chengdu Declaration and Plan of Action were approved unanimously, which will facilitate movement of goods and people between the member countries. During the meeting, the minister also met Minister for Transport of China Li Shenghi, Governor of Sichuan Province Jiang Jufeng and several ministers from European and Asian Countries.

The minister is visiting China to attend the 2nd ASEM Transport Ministers Meeting being held in Chengdu, China, from October 24 – 26, 2011. Alamgir will visit Beijing from October 26 – 27, 201 on the last leg of his China tour.

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