‘Real New Silk Road’ to turn Afghanistan into major regional transit hub

real-new-silk-roadKABUL: Optimisms are on the rise with the opening of the New Silk Road connecting China with the Eurasian landmass as two trains carrying dozens of containers bound for Afghanistan left China with the first consignment arriving in Hairatan port of Afghanistan earlier this month.

The initiative by China is considered is a major turnover in Afghanistan’s efforts to turn the country into a regional transit as it has been dubbed as Real New Silk Road following attempts by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to start the operations of the road in 2011 but subsequently flopped before it even got started.

According to an article published in Forbes by the magazine’s contributor Wade Shepard China is making good on this ambition by integrating Afghanistan in with their Belt and Road initiative — a major part of what could be called the real New Silk Road.

At least 85 containers were transported in the first Afghanistan-bound train that ceremoniously departed from Nantong in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on 25th August.

The side of the train was draped with a banner that read “Congratulations on the Central Asian trains (Nantong – Afghanistan – Hairaton) launching” and on the front was a similar sign topped off with a bright red pom-pom.

The second train bound for Afghanistan is expected to arrive today after covering 7,500 kilometer of journey from eastern Chinese city of Yiwu to Mazar-e-Sharif city of Afghanistan, carrying over 100 containers worth of $4 million cargo.

The latest developments came as the Afghan government has been attempting to turn the country into a major regional transit hub by taking advantage of the geographical position of the country.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani during his speech at a gathering in Kabul said Afghanistan will continue to emerge as a key player to link the region, insisting that the country will no more remain dependent on a single port, gesturing towards the Pakistani ports on which the Afghan traders have long been counting on. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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