Lahore: President Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) Moazzam Ali Ghurki has termed the Main Line 1 (ML-1) project as backbone of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Chairing an executive body meeting of the joint chamber here, he contended that the CPEC was a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation.

He called for early construction on this vital project of Karachi to Peshawar rail line link.

Ghurki mentioned that this project involved upgrading a 1,163-mile, colonial-era track from Karachi to Peshawar to carry high-speed trains.

The PCJCCI Senior Vice President Fang Yulong highlighted that Pakistan had agreed to increase the cost of ML-1 from US $ 6.8 billion to US $ 9.85 billion, on the demand of Chinese negotiators, who termed the former cost figure as unrealistic.

But the best part was that the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the US $ 10 billion Mainline-I Project of Pakistan Railways.

On this occasion, the joint chamber’s Vice President Hamza Khalid said that this project was one of the mega projects of CPEC because it could be expected to eventually become part of an extended CPEC outreach to Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

It would ultimately provide rail links from the Afghanistan capital Kabul to the Indian Ocean, greatly enhancing its ability to engage in global trade, he mentioned.

He underlined that China had already indicated it was ready to invest in Afghanistan by funding additional railways extending from Uzbekistan to Kabul and from Iran to Herat.

“On the other hand, if we don’t start the ML-I project immediately, the mainline of Pakistan Railways was likely to collapse within a short span of time,” he remarked.

On this occasion, PCJCCI Secretary General Salahuddin Hanif said that China once again proved a great friend by approving 90 percent finances for the project which would be provided by the Chinese government through the government concessional loan, while the remaining amount would be contributed by Pakistan. He hoped that this project would help in enhancing multilateral trade relations in near future.