Afghanistan, Pakistan and surrounding countries  on retro globe underneath a magnifying glass. Image: iStock
Afghanistan, Pakistan and surrounding countries on retro globe underneath a magnifying glass. Image: iStock

Pakistan attended the June 9-10 SCO Summit in Qingdao, China, for the first time as a full member of the organization. Going forward, Pakistan will play a proactive role as a vital member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and contribute its share in making the SCO a success story.

Pakistan occupies a geopolitically important location at the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia. Its geo-strategic location makes it a land of connectivity, a bridge by which Central Asia, Russia and China can reach the warm waters of the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan is developing state-of-the-art infrastructure within the country as well as international connectivity. The planned Gwadar-Termez expressway will connect Gwadar, Pakistan, to Central Asia. This 650km road will be completed in the very near future. The route from Termez, Uzbekistan, to Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, will also go to Chaman, Pakistan, via Kandahar.

Once this project is finished, Balochistan will be better connected to areas near it, and Quetta will stand connected to the rest of Pakistan as well as the Central Asian region by road.

An expressway from Peshawar to Torkham on the Pakistani-Afghan border and then to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is also under construction and should be completed very soon, when it will connect Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Termez with Pakistan, giving the country two routes to access Central Asia.

A railway network connecting all major cities of Pakistan from north to south and to Iran is going to launch soon. The railway linkage will be extended to China in the next phase.

The Gwadar deep-sea natural port is already partially operational and extension work is in progress. Most of the projects are completed; some are in a well-advanced stage or nearly completed, while others are in the pipeline.

Road and rail networks, airports and seaports are rapidly developing. These will reduce distances tremendously for trade within Pakistan, cut the costs of transportation drastically and save transportation time to a huge extent. This will definitely be an additional edge in competitiveness in trade through Pakistan.

English is an official language in Pakistan and is widely understood, reducing communication barriers to international trade. The service industry in Pakistan is developing at a fast pace – fuel stations, hotels, and restaurants of various tastes such as Central Asian and Chinese are mushrooming.

The hotel industry is also picking up. The domestic transport industry has also witnessed good progress.

The government of Pakistan is formulating attractive policies and a flexible approach to facilitate its international partners. These policies may be bilateral or multilateral, based on mutual consultations.

Pakistan is well prepared to expand cooperation with all of the SCO’s member states in all dimensions.

The people of Pakistan are friendly, open and waiting for new opportunities of “Peace, Harmony and Development.”

Zamir Awan

Professor Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan. Posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing as science counselor (technical affairs) from 2010-16, he was responsible for promoting cooperation between Pakistan and China in science, technology, and higher education.

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