China, Pakistan to modernise vital rail link to speed up CPEC construction
China and Pakistan have agreed to jointly modernise the 1,600-km long vital railway link connecting southern and northern Pakistan as part of a move to push forward construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
“China and Pakistan have signed memorandums of understanding to increase the speed of the railway connecting Karachi and Peshawar, as well as upgrade its signal system and railway stations,” Zafaruddin Mahmood, Pakistan's special envoy on the CPEC, told the China Daily.
The MoU also includes the construction of the Havelian land port on the Karakoram Highway that connects Pakistan and Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
The envoy said that with the following the modernisation of the railway link, goods shipped from China can be loaded from trucks to trains from the Havelian land port.
He further said that two sides are working to improve Islamabad's capabilities in land surveying by planning to launch a satellite.
China will also help Pakistan build an international airport in Gwadar and a highway connecting the deep-sea port to the airport.
He said China will help Pakistan increase its electricity supply by 80 percent in the next five years.
India has been expressing concern over the CPEC project which links China's Muslim dominated Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port in Pakistan.
India’s objection is mainly based over the fact that the CPEC project, key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which New Delhi considers as its integral part.
India even skipped China's high-profile Belt and Road Forum last week. However, few Indian scholars attended the opening session of the two-day "Belt and Road" conference that brought together leaders from 29 nations.
Earlier this month, the Chinese state-run media had said that the country was ready to interfere in the Kashmir issue to protect its massive investment in the CPEC, making it obvious that the project will be Beijing’s road to Kashmir, proving true India’s fear of China meddling in the issue.
Beijing invested in the CPEC despite India’s objections with an eventual aim of interfering in the Kashmir issue under the name of “protecting its investments”.