Pakistan wants China rail link through PoK

Pakistan has also offered to be part of a Chinese plan to build a new Silk Road to connect Xinjiang with Euro-Asian countries.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2011, 17:29 PM IST

Beijing: Pakistan wants China to construct a rail link through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and a network of oil and gas pipelines which will help cut costs for Beijing`s burgeoning energy needs and ensure mutual benefit.

Pakistan has also offered to be part of a Chinese plan to build a new Silk Road to connect oil-rich Xinjiang region with Euro-Asian countries, including Russia.

While President Asif Ali Zardari referred to some these proposals during his recent visit to Xinjiang province, Pakistan`s Ambassador to China Masood Khan today elaborated on them in an article in the state-run daily `Global Times`.

"Pakistan and China both aspire to enhance connectivity between them. They will achieve this objective by upgrading the Karakoram Highway, building a 411-mile-long railroad from Pakistani town of Havelian to Khunjerab Pass, located on the Sino-Pakistani border, install a fibre optic link across the border, and plan the laying of oil and gas pipelines that can originate from the Gulf and end up in China`s western region," he said.

Much of Khan`s article dwelt on China`s new plan to develop its western region, including Xinjiang bordering PoK, under which billion of dollars of investment is expected to be poured by creating new SEZ and industries can benefit Pakistan and China.

China sees Xinjiang`s development as revival of new Silk Road connecting it to Euro-Asian countries as well as Russia. "China`s economy is fast integrating with the Western Asian and European economies. For China, trade routed via
Urumqi, (provincial capital of Xijiang) through Khunjerab and Gwadar and destined for Dubai and London, can save more than 5,000 miles and several days of transit time," Khan wrote.

China has helped Pakistan to construct the Gwadar port and now Pakistan wants it to be oil pipeline hub for China proposing network of pipeline along the Karrakoram Highway besides offering it to be a naval port to be used by Chinese Navy.

"Right now the bulk of the Chinese trade with the Middle East has to pass through the Indian Ocean and the chokepoint of the Malacca Straits. The distance from Dubai to Shanghai is 9,000 miles but from Dubai to Khunjerab is only 3,300 miles. The advantage is evident," Khan said.

"Xinjiang and the northern provinces of Pakistan will form the central plank in the emerging architecture for new silk routes," he said adding it could benefit Pakistan as well.

He also reiterated Pakistan`s recent statements about curbing terrorism in Xinjiang made in the backdrop of allegation from China that militants from recent attacks at Kashghar were trained in terror camps in Pakistan.

PTI