ISLAMABAD: Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a loan of two billion dollars to Pakistan for the upgrades of two railway projects under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) strategy 2030, a senior official said on Monday.
“We have envisaged up-gradation of mainline (ML-1), ML-2 and ML-3,” Director General Planning at Ministry of Railways Mazhar Ali Shah said, addressing a ceremony to launch CAREC strategy 2030.
“China will finance ML-1 under CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), while ADB will finance $2 billion for ML-2 and ML-3.” ML-1 is a railways connection, totaling 1,681-kilometre from Karachi to Peshawar, ML-2 with 1,243-kilometre from Kotri to Attock and ML-3 spreading over 966-kilomtre from Rohri to Quetta.
The CAREC strategy 2030 was approved by the 16th CAREC ministerial conference on 27 October in Dushanbe. CAREC is an eleven-member country regional platform that aims to connect people, policies and projects for shared and sustainable development.
Pakistan has also suggested cooperation on aviation, removal of visa restrictions and exchange of data on water among the member countries. ADB’s Director Regional Cooperation at Central and West Asia Department Safdar Parvaz said the bank is currently working out the overall cost of CAREC Strategy 2030 as it would depend on number of projects financed through CAREC.
“ADB has already allocated $5 billion to implement the CAREC Strategy 2030,” Parvaz added. “Pakistan’s Prime Minister gave vision at forum of CAREC by saying that keep politics out from regional cooperation initiatives and it should be implemented for achieving the desired results.”
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ADB’s Country Director in Pakistan Xiaohong Yang said the regional connectivity possesses immense importance within and outside the CAREC forum. Yang said the CAREC did well since its inception as more than $30 billion was invested so far to finance different projects with focus on more regional connectivity. “In Pakistan, overall investment under CAREC initiative stood at $1.5 billion out of which $800 million financed by ADB.”
She said ADB would continue to support the CAREC agenda as it can contribute to long-term economic and political stability creating a peace dividend. Yang said Pakistan possesses unique opportunity for becoming central point for promoting trade in terms of regional connectivity, paving the way for reducing poverty.
Syed Mujtaba Hussain, national focal person for CAREC in Pakistan asked government agencies to submit practical and viable project proposals from their respective areas. Secretary for Economic Affairs Division Arif Ahmed Khan said government is committed to achieve goals related to climate change and sustainable development goals.
Khan appreciated the Manila-based lender to extend cooperation for preparation of well-formulated strategy document. He assured Pakistan’s support to mobilise all possible resources to improve and develop regional connectivity as outlined in the new strategy.