Train to Progress

Southasia - - 11 -

Afghanistan has set up its first ever train sta­tion in the city of Mazar-e-sharif. The north­ern city re­cently saw its first train chug­ging into the newly built sta­tion fol­low­ing a 47-mile in­au­gu­ral jour­ney from the coun­try’s bor­der with Uzbek­istan. Afghanistan’s in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment has been vic­tim­ized to the Great Game played out by Rus- sia and Bri­tain. Soviet in­va­sion made the prospects bleaker and the con­se­quent civil war de­te­ri­o­rated the sit­u­a­tion. The £110 mil­lion project, funded by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, will link Afghanistan’s rail sys­tem to Asia’s ex­ist­ing ex­pan­sive net­work. The project has fi­nally de­vel­oped a cen­tury af­ter Afghanistan’s ruler, Ab­dur Rah­man Khan, re­fused to join the rail age fear­ing that the sys­tem would be used by for­eign in­vaders. The new rail­way sys­tem will al­low Afghan traders and busi­ness­men to ex­port fruits, car­pets, nuts and min­er­als to Asia and Europe and will also pre­vent break­down of traf­fic at bor­der cross­ings. The in­fra­struc­ture is ex­pected to pro­vide a boost to Afghanistan’s strug­gling econ­omy and GDP.

The com­ple­tion of the project comes in the wake of Pak­istan block­ing its sup­ply routes to 140,000 NA­TOled troops. US mil­i­tary an­a­lysts have lauded the rail­way sys­tem and an­tic­i­pate that it will al­le­vi­ate the prob­lems caused by the Pak­istani block­ade.

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