ISLAMABAD: Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim on Tuesday said Pakistan's entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would further strengthen its relations with member states of the organisation.
“Expansion of road infrastructure in SCO will help bring economic, political stability in the region as well as improve security situation of the regional countries,” said the communications minister during a meeting with SCO Secretary General Rashid Alimov, who called on him.
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He said Pakistan shared deep-rooted historical and cultural links and strong economic and strategic relations with SCO and its members.
Alimov said that communications and transport sector was one of the key areas in enhancement of mutual cooperation among the SCO member states.
He said that the annual summit of the member states of SCO, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan witnessed the signing of the ‘Intergovernmental Agreement of the SCO Member States on the Facilitation of International Road Transport’.
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This road transport facilitation agreement is expected to significantly promote regional and sub-regional connectivity and integration, in particular revitalisation of the ancient Silk Road, he remarked.
The agreement opens more than 15,000 km of the Asian highway routes for transport operation and services, with the longest route stretching more than 9,000 km from Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation to Lianyungang, China. The agreement will also develop landlocked Central Asia's access to sea by road through China and Russian Federation.
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Communications Secretary Furqan Bahdur Khan said that Pakistan was ready to further strengthen its relations with the SCO states.
About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said that it was a flagship project and provided a natural link with SCO states.
Later, National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman Jawwad Rafiq Malik gave a briefing about the road infrastructure projects in the country.
While apprising the SCO Secretary General about the road infrastructure development plan initiated by the present government in the country, he said that CPEC was a bilateral project in nature but it could integrate people of South Asia, China and Central Asia for shared goals of development and prosperity. He informed the meeting that under the early harvest CPEC projects include 118 km Thakot-Havelian project to be completed in March 2020 and 392 km Sukkur-Multan Motorway likely to be completed by August next year.
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He said that NHA was also planning to dualise Peshawar-Jalalabad Highway and start work on Quetta-Kandhar Road and link Iran with Gwadar through Naukundi-Mashkhel-Panjgoor Highway.
He said when the present government came to power in 2013 only 582 km motorway was functional but it started work on 1,700 km new motorway projects which would become operational by end of 2019, enhancing the total length of motorways to 2,400 km.