Pakistan’s strategic move: Joining the International North-South Transport Corridor | Opinion

In a significant development, Pakistan has expressed its readiness to join the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), as announced by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Russia, Muhammad Khalid Jamali, at the International IT Forum in Khanty-Mansiysk. This move marks a pivotal moment for Pakistan, opening up vast opportunities for economic growth and regional cooperation.

The INSTC is a 7,200 km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Established in 2000 by India, Iran, and Russia, the corridor aims to reduce cargo transportation costs and time between Asia and Europe, enhancing trade and economic integration across the region.

Joining the INSTC offers Pakistan numerous strategic and economic benefits. By integrating into the INSTC, Pakistan can diversify its trade routes, reducing dependency on traditional pathways and enhancing connectivity with Europe and Central Asia. This could significantly reduce transportation costs and transit times, fostering greater trade volumes. The corridor provides Pakistan with access to new markets, potentially boosting exports. Sectors such as textiles, agriculture, and manufactured goods can find more lucrative markets, driving economic growth and job creation.

Participation in the INSTC enhances Pakistan’s geopolitical stature, positioning it as a crucial transit hub in the region. This aligns with Pakistan’s broader strategic goals of regional connectivity and economic integration. The enhanced connectivity could attract foreign investment into Pakistan’s infrastructure, logistics, and transportation sectors, further spurring economic development.

Azerbaijan, a key player in the INSTC, offers significant collaborative potential for Pakistan. Both countries can cooperate on developing logistics hubs and infrastructure along the corridor. Joint ventures in constructing railways, ports, and road networks can streamline the flow of goods, making transportation more efficient. Azerbaijan’s rich energy resources present an opportunity for energy cooperation. Pakistan, facing energy shortages, can benefit from Azerbaijan’s oil and gas supplies, ensuring energy security and supporting industrial growth. Strengthening trade ties between Pakistan and Azerbaijan can lead to mutual economic benefits. Azerbaijan can serve as a gateway for Pakistani goods into Central Asia and Europe, while Pakistan can offer Azerbaijani products access to South Asian markets.

The inclusion of Pakistan in the INSTC not only benefits Pakistan but also offers substantial advantages to partnering states. Enhanced connectivity facilitates smoother and more efficient trade, increasing volumes and diversifying trade partnerships across the region. The corridor promotes economic integration, fostering interdependence and collaborative economic growth among member states. By promoting economic cooperation, the INSTC contributes to regional stability and development, reducing tensions and fostering peaceful relations.

The INSTC is expected to boost trade by 30% between member countries. For Pakistan, this could translate into billions of dollars in increased trade. The corridor reduces transportation time by up to 40% and costs by 30%, making it a highly efficient trade route. Enhanced connectivity is likely to attract significant foreign direct investment (FDI) into Pakistan, particularly in infrastructure and logistics.

Pakistan’s readiness to join the International North-South Transport Corridor represents a strategic move towards economic revitalization and regional cooperation. By leveraging the corridor’s potential, Pakistan can enhance its trade routes, stimulate economic growth, and strengthen geopolitical ties, particularly with Azerbaijan. This integration not only benefits Pakistan but also promotes broader regional stability and prosperity, making it a win-win situation for all involved. As Pakistan embarks on this journey, it stands to gain significantly, both economically and strategically, positioning itself as a key player in regional connectivity and economic integration.

While Pakistan is struggling to revive its ailing economy, this strategic move is a ray of hope. Pakistan’s expectations from the INSTC are high, as it is willing to contribute more to other partners too. Pakistan’s potential to facilitate the trade of all member countries through Gwadar is huge, and it may change the entire pattern and route of trade in the whole region. Pakistan is fully prepared, and the entire infrastructure is already in place.

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