Samaa reported on December 5 that Pakistan is seeking to build an US$8.2 billion rail link connecting it with Uzbekistan as it pushes to enhance linkages with Central Asian nations.

This was reportedly disclosed on December 5 during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways. 

Presided over by Senatre Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi, the meeting attended by Senator Dost Muhammad, Senator Shahadat Awan, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, Railways Ministry Federal Secretary Zafar Zaman Ranjha and other concerned officers.

During the meeting Mr. Ranjha reportedly said that the government is deliberating on an Afghan Transit project which will connect Pakistan with Uzbekistan.

The project will cost around 8.2 billion U.S. dollars. 

The Trans-Afghan railway project, first proposed in December 2018 by Uzbekistan, aims at extending the Afghan rail network from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul and then to Nangarhar province, where the railway would cross the Torkham border and run into Pakistan via Peshawar. Once in Pakistan, goods will be offloaded to connect with the Pakistan rail system and from there will eventually travel down to the Pakistani seaports of Karachi, Gwadar, and Qasim.

The railway is expected to have a planned capacity of up to 20 million tons of cargo per annum, and once operational it would slice the travel time for goods transiting from Uzbekistan to Pakistan from 35 days to just 3 to 5 days.  The railway line is planned to be 573 kilometers and the time frame for the construction is approximately five years.