China’s Xinjiang province presents great trade opportunities for Pakistan as it is being rapidly developed to link it with South and Central Asia.
These were the views expressed by President Institute of Regional Studies Ashraf Azeem, on Friday, speaking at a discussion on Kashgar. He was visiting the city to take part in the eighth Kashgar Central and South Asia Commodity Fair.
Referring to the importance of Kashgar, Azeem stated that it is a major city of China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region which served as an important link in the ancient Silk trade route that connected China with the rest of the world. Kashgar has the advantage of connecting Europe and Asia with five ports and eight neighbouring countries. It is a bridgehead that connects China with the West.
Xinjiang is a Muslim-dominated region that borders Gilgit-Baltistan. As part of the 20- year development plan that China launched in 2000, Beijing is rapidly developing the region’s infrastructure including construction of the Kashgar Economic Development Zone.
The development plan also includes construction of railway links and roads connecting Xinjiang with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
A new mega city is also coming up. Azeem pointed out that language continues to be a great barrier and efforts should be made to remove this strategic communication gap.
A rail link between the two countries is being planned which would shorten distances and create new transportation, trade and energy corridors. The enhanced transportation links between Pakistan and China will launch modern silk routes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.