Islamabad: The 13th session of the Joint Working Committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has concluded with a pivotal agreement on the bidding process for the modernization of the Karachi to Peshawar railway line, designated as ML-1.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal announced after the meeting that consensus had been reached regarding the bidding process for the ML-1 project, with finalization anticipated during the Prime Minister’s imminent visit to China.

The project, projected to cost US $ 6.8 billion, will be executed in phases, ensuring a systematic upgrade of Pakistan’s critical railway infrastructure.

Authorities further detailed that the meeting also centered on enhancing cooperation across various sectors as part of CPEC’s second phase.

This includes the completion of 1,800 MW hydropower projects and expanded collaboration in agriculture, industry, and mining. These initiatives are anticipated to significantly propel Pakistan’s economic growth and infrastructure development.

The Planning Minister noted that Pakistan’s dues to Chinese power projects under CPEC have exceeded Pakistani Rs 500 billion. Despite these financial hurdles, the strong and enduring friendship between Pakistan and China persists, with China demonstrating exceptional patience and support.

“If it were any other country, they would have taken us to international arbitration by now,” remarked Iqbal, underscoring the depth and resilience of the Pakistan-China relationship.

The ML-1 project is heralded as a cornerstone of CPEC, aiming to transform Pakistan’s railway system by reducing travel time, enhancing safety, and increasing the capacity for freight and passenger services. This modernization effort is expected to be crucial in strengthening Pakistan’s economy by facilitating more efficient and reliable transportation of goods and passengers nationwide.