Lawmakers say initiative will boost trade between three countries, reduce cost of doing business
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government on Tuesday inaugurated the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul freight train, with lawmakers claiming it will prove a ‘game-changer’ in the region and boost trade between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.
Railways Minister Azam Swati, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser to the P.M. on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ehsan Mustafa jointly inaugurated the new train service, which aims to reduce the cost of doing business between the three states. The ambassadors of Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were also present on the occasion.
Addressing the event, the Turkish envoy said regional connectivity was very important in today’s world and described the freight train as an important initiative of Pakistan’s Railways Ministry. He said that this route could be extended to Europe, thereby boosting trade activities even further.
In his speech, Swati claimed the freight train would transform Pakistan Railways into a profitable entity. He said the Railways Ministry was also planning to run a passenger train between these countries in the near future. “We have opened our trade routes and it is a great opportunity for importers and exporters,” he added.
He said the freight train was an “important milestone” in Pakistan’s history, as it would boost business-to-business contacts strengthen relations between the three countries.
Dawood said regional connectivity was an important pillar of Pakistan’s strategic trade policy framework, adding it was heartening to see the freight train’s operations resume.
Qureshi appreciated the resumption of the ITI freight train, reiterating that it would boost regional connectivity and promote economic activity in the region.
According to Pakistan Railways, the first train from Islamabad to Istanbul was inaugurated on Aug. 14, 2009, while the first train from Istanbul reached the Islamabad dry port on Aug. 13, 2010. It said eight trains had been dispatched from Pakistan to Turkey thus far, with the last leaving Lahore dry port on Nov. 5, 2011. It said that the ITI freight train would operate every Tuesday, adding that it would take 90 hours to travel between Istanbul and Iran and 135.5 hours to travel between Iran and Pakistan.