PESHAWAR: The federal government has approved construction of the Khyber Pass Economic Corridor leading to the Pak-Afghan Torkham border from Peshawar.

The National Highway Authority (NHA) has completed the survey for the establishment of Khyber Pass Economic Corridor and it is estimated that the project would cost Rs65 billion.

The Corridor will include a 48 kilometres four-lane expressway and an industrial zone. It is estimated that the project would be completed in 2024 with the help of the World Bank. After completion of the project, the travel distance from Peshawar to Torkham border will reduce significantly with the completion of the project and it will also create thousands of jobs.

This is a mega project which will ultimately connect South Asia to Central Asia via Afghanistan through road link. Under the project, the Afghan government has been given the responsibility to build the highway from Torkham to Kabul.

Deputy Commissioner Khyber district Mehmood Alsam Wazir said the establishment of Khyber Pass Economic Corridor will bring a new era of development in the merged tribal districts. He said the positive impacts of the project will be visible in the whole region. The project will particularly benefit the businessmen, transporters and other job seekers. He said it will boost the economic activities in the whole region. It is expected that the project will create 100,000 new jobs in KP.

In December 2019, the Pakistan government signed an agreement with the World Bank under which the latter will provide $406.6 million for Khyber Pass Economic Corridor.

The Economic Affairs Division Secretary Dr Syed Pervaiz Abbas signed the project loan agreement on behalf of the government of Pakistan, while a representative of National Highway Authority (NHA) signed the project agreement and the World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the agreement on behalf of the Bank.

The expressway between Peshawar and Kabul through the Khyber Pass represents a section of Corridors 5 and 6 of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

The Economic Affairs Division observed that Corridor 5, which runs through Pakistan, “has the potential to provide the shortest link between the landlocked countries of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Arabian Sea, while Corridor 6 provides access to Europe, Middle East and Russia”.