Landlocked Uzbekistan has launched the construction of $5 billion (estimated cost) Trans-Afghan Railway Line project to access Pakistan’s major seaports, which will boost regional connectivity and trilateral trade, Pakistan’s The News International reported on March 27. 

The trilateral Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan working meeting took place in the Uzbek city of Termez on March 26-27

The meeting was reportedly attended by Minister of Transport of Uzbekistan Ilkhom Makhkamov,  Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Otabek Choriyev, Governor of Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya Region To’ra Bobolov, Minister of State and Chairman Board of Investment of Pakistan Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, and Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation of Afghanistan Akbar Jan Polad.

During the session, available conditions of cargo transportation in Pakistan and proposals for increasing the volume of traffic between the three countries were discussed, according to The News International

Speaking at the meeting, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan said, "This Trans-Afghan Railway project is the most economical and shortest route connecting Central Asia with Pakistani ports of Karachi, Gwadar, and Qasim.” 

He underscored that its geography makes Pakistan the shortest, most economical, and easiest land route for Central Asia to access Arabian Sea.

“Afghanistan is termed the 'heart of Asia.' It connects different regions, mainly Central Asia, via Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, South Asia via Pakistan, and the Middle East, via Iran,” Ahsan said.

Once the plan materializes, the Central Asian landlocked countries will get access to the sea, enhance trade, and save money and time.

Due to Central Asia's distance from the open sea, railways have a pivotal role to play in the economic planning of these countries. 

On February 2, 2022, representatives of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Tashkent agreed to a roadmap for the construction of 600-kilometer-long rail project connecting Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan (Mazar-e Sharif – Kabul --Peshawar railroad).