ISLAMABAD - Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir has said that Pakistan is deeply interested in laying modern rail tracks and refurbishing the existing ones for direct and transit trade with Afghanistan and Iran.

Chairing a meeting with the business delegation from South Africa here on Wednesday, the minister said the government considered rail tracks as trade corridors because they play a vital role in boosting exports by facilitating transit trade.

Willem Goosen of M/s Grindrod Rail, Multi-Continent Investment Company, led the South African delegation. Asfhaq Anwar, a Pakistani businessman in South Africa, accompanied him.

The minister said, “The government is deeply interested in integrated locomotive services for increasing trade with the neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and Iran.

“We will also establish a modern rail link from Gwadar Port to up country and further to Afghanistan for the transit trade,” the minister informed.

“Refurbishing of existing rail infrastructure for trade with Iran is also under consideration, as trade ties with Iran are getting stronger,” he added.

He claimed the government was utilising substantial resources for meeting power generation demands of the export-oriented industrial sector.

“And for the purpose, construction work on power plants, including Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant, is underway at a fast pace,” he added.

“We shall ensure smooth supply of imported raw input for the Sahiwal plant through the rail route,” he said.

Dastgir told the delegation that Pakistan intended to initiate talks with South Africa over Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) for increase in existing trade volume between the two countries.

The South African delegation offered its support to Pakistan in terms of funding, rail-infrastructure development, technology transfer, training of human resource and provision of logistics for different projects.

Korean Ambassador Dr. Song Jong-Hwan also called on Dastgir, and discussed matters related to mutual interests.