Uzbekistan offered access to Gwadar and Karachi ports

In a bid to enhance regional connectivity and trade Pakistan is viewing the possibility of providing Uzbekistan access to Karachi and Gwadar ports of Pakistan.

During a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdlaziz Kamilov , Prime minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan offers the shortest route to international seas to all Central Asian Republics including Uzbekistan and could prove as a gateway to landlocked Central Asia.

Underlining the historic and civilizational links between the two countries, the PM said that Pakistan highly valued its close fraternal ties with Uzbekistan and wished to deepen bilateral cooperation in all areas. He emphasized that enhanced trade and regional connectivity were the cornerstones of economic growth and development. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support to the Afghan peace process, stressing the imperative of negotiated political solution.

Uzbekistan, currently relies on Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas for external trade, is exploring other options and is prioritizing Pakistani ports because of short distance, being more economical and due to some political considerations. Uzbekistan is working with Pakistan on the development of two options — the first is the Trans-Afghan railway project while the second is the road route via China.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan had in Tash­kent in February signed a roadmap for the construction of almost 600km of Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway line. The project, which is expected to take five years for completion at an estimated cost of $4.8 billion, enjoys the backing of international lending agencies including the World Bank.

Furthermore Uzbekistan also wants Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA), an agreement between China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan which will facilitate transit traffic and trade. The road project under this agreement would provide an alternative link between Pakistan and Central Asia while bypassing Afghanistan through the Karakoram Highway which connects Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region and further on to Central Asia.