Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan have approved a roadmap for the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway line that will open up broad prospects for international trade, economic development cooperation and the connection of Central Asia to South Asia via Afghanistan. Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood represented Pakistan in the trilateral working group on the construction of the railway line. Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, who led an Afghan delegation in the ceremony on Tuesday, in a tweet said the project will boost connectivity, contribute to increased trade, transit and economic cooperation and realize a shared vision to link Central & South Asia through Afghanistan. The Uzbek Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade said Wednesday in a statement that the 600-km Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project will open Pakistani seaports to the Central Asian and Eurasian railway systems, significantly increasing cargo flows and also reviving the region’s historical role as a bridge linking Europe and Asia. The implementation of the project will also create unique opportunities for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, stimulating the progressive economic growth of this country by creating tens of thousands of new jobs, it said, according to Xinhua news agency. Earlier railways officials of Pakistan said that the project will cost $4.8 billion. In December Prime Minister Imran Khan and Uzbekistan’s Minister for Transport Makhkamov Ilkham had agreed in Islamabad to pursue Trans-Afghan railway line project ‘Mazar-e-Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar’. The trilateral meeting agreed to conduct a joint expedition to survey the route and investigate the terrain conditions, as well as a preliminary feasibility study for the project, including possible finance mechanisms. In general, the implementation of the trans-Afghan railway project will reduce the time and cost of transporting goods along the North-South corridor by 30 percent. Thus, the delivery time of goods from the Russian border (Ozinki station) to Karachi will be 16-18 days, and from Termez to Karachi – 8-10 days, according to Uzbek officials. They are confident that the volume of traffic can grow to 10 million tons in the first years of operation. It is the planned Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway that will form a new world paradigm for access through Pakistani ports (Gwadar, Karachi) to the countries of the Persian Gulf. The project thus forms a unified railway infrastructure of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries with the countries of South Asia. The implementation of the project creates unique prospects for the development of the economy of Afghanistan, simultaneously forming interregional and intercontinental transit flows. Uzbek officials point out that despite the development of international transport corridors for Uzbekistan, which provide free rail links with Western and Eastern seaports, the situation on the Southern route remains tense. “At the same time, transport to the ports of Pakistan from Central Asia, CIS, and the Russian Federation create ample opportunities for the development of international trade,” a document of the Uzbekistan government says. A kind of key to ensuring transport connectivity between the largest railways of the CIS and Eastern Europe, Iran, and Turkey, as well as China with the railways of Pakistan and India is in Afghanistan.