Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Forge Alliance to Invest in Trans-Afghan Railway

In a historic move, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have joined hands to propel forward the ambitious Trans-Afghan Railway project, marking a significant milestone in regional cooperation. The two nations announced the establishment of a joint venture during a meeting held on Friday, April 5th, aiming to spearhead the development of this transformative initiative.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan convened to unveil their commitment to the Trans-Afghan Railway project, demonstrating a shared vision for fostering economic growth and connectivity across the Central Asian region. The leaders also deliberated on strategies to bolster stability and security in the area, recognizing the pivotal role of cooperation in addressing common challenges.

Central to their discussions was the imperative to amplify trade volumes, formulate a comprehensive framework for industrial collaboration, and execute vital infrastructure ventures in the domains of transportation and energy. By synergizing their efforts, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan aspire to unlock new avenues of prosperity while bolstering the resilience of regional economies.

Economists foresee substantial benefits accruing to Afghanistan from the implementation of the Trans-Afghan Railway project, originally proposed by Uzbekistan in December 2018. This transformative endeavor seeks to extend Afghanistan’s rail network from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul and onward to Nangarhar province, encompassing a total stretch of approximately 760 kilometers. Upon crossing into Pakistan at Peshawar via Torkham, the railway will seamlessly link Central Asia with South Asia, facilitating enhanced trade flows and economic integration.

In Pakistan, the envisaged railway network will seamlessly integrate with the existing rail infrastructure, enabling the efficient transfer of goods to key seaports such as Karachi, Gwadar, and Qasim. This integration promises to catalyze trade dynamics and unlock new avenues for regional commerce, underpinning the broader vision of fostering connectivity and economic development.

The proposed joint venture, once operational, will play a pivotal role in facilitating cargo transportation along the China-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan route, in addition to overseeing the development of the Trans-Afghan route. Leveraging Kazakhstan’s expertise in the supply of materials for railway tracks and provision of essential rolling stock, such as locomotives and freight cars, the joint venture is poised to emerge as a linchpin in driving the project’s success.

Currently, Afghanistan’s rail infrastructure is limited, with only a handful of mainline railways connecting it to neighboring countries. The Trans-Afghan Railway project holds the promise of revolutionizing the country’s transportation landscape, ushering in an era of enhanced connectivity and economic vitality.

The collaboration between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan represents a testament to the enduring spirit of regional cooperation and partnership. With a portfolio encompassing 60 collaborative projects and investments exceeding $2.5 billion, the Kazakh-Uzbek alliance is poised to chart new frontiers of growth while creating thousands of job opportunities.

As progress gathers momentum on the construction of an International Center for Industrial Cooperation and engagement with new partners such as Afghanistan, the region stands poised to reap the dividends of enhanced connectivity and economic integration. Through concerted efforts and collective action, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and their regional partners are paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous future.