Tag Archives: Central Asia

Pakistan: Peshawar Mass Transit -Progressing towards destination

Peshawar is the capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the administrative and economic hub of this area. The population of Peshawar city is approximately 2 million, and it is located at 34.0117°N, 71.5389°E with an area of 1,257 sq.km (485.3 sq miles). Peshawar is situated in a large valley between the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau and the Indus Valley, near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, Renowned in Persian as “City on the Frontier”, Peshawar’s strategic location on the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia has made it one of the most culturally vibrant
and lively cities in the greater region.
1.01 Urbanization trends and increasing demand The urban population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is increasing at a very fast pace, due to many push and pull factors. The Afghan influx in KPK, the law and order situation coupled with natural calamities like floods and earthquakes pushing people out from FATA, Malakand etc. The pull of safety and security, education and health facilities, better business and employment opportunities, all have their attraction, bringing more
people to the cities and increasing the population.

Read more » http://www.urbanpolicyunit.gkp.pk/MTS%20Project%20Brief.pdf

 

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Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road

By

AZAMAT KULYENOV, a 26-year-old train driver, slid the black-knobbed throttle forward, and the 1,800-ton express freight train, nearly a half-mile long, began rolling west across the vast, deserted grasslands of eastern Kazakhstan, leaving the Chinese border behind.

Dispatchers in the Kazakh border town of Dostyk gave this train priority over all other traffic, including passenger trains. Specially trained guards rode on board. Later in the trip, as the train traveled across desolate Eurasian steppes, guards toting AK-47 military assault rifles boarded the locomotive to keep watch for bandits who might try to drive alongside and rob the train. Sometimes, the guards would even sit on top of the steel shipping containers.

The train roughly follows the fabled Silk Road, the ancient route linking China and Europe that was used to transport spices, gems and, of course, silks before falling into disuse six centuries ago. Now the overland route is being resurrected for a new precious cargo: several million laptop computers and accessories made each year in China and bound for customers in European cities like London, Paris, Berlin and Rome.

Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley electronics company, has pioneered the revival of a route famous in the West since the Roman Empire. For the last two years, the company has shipped laptops and accessories to stores in Europe with increasing frequency aboard express trains that cross Central Asia at a clip of 50 miles an hour. Initially an experiment run in summer months, H.P. is now dispatching trains on the nearly 7,000-mile route at least once a week, and up to three times a week when demand warrants. H.P. plans to ship by rail throughout the coming winter, having taken elaborate measures to protect the cargo from temperatures that can drop to 40 degrees below zero.

Though the route still accounts for just a small fraction of manufacturers’ overall shipments from China to Europe, other companies are starting to follow H.P.’s example. Chinese authorities announced on Wednesday the first of six long freight trains this year from Zhengzhou, a manufacturing center in central China, to Hamburg, Germany, following much the same route across western China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland as the H.P. trains. The authorities said they planned 50 trains on the route next year, hauling $1 billion worth of goods; the first train this month is carrying $1.5 million worth of tires, shoes and clothes, while the trains are to bring back German electronics, construction machinery, vehicles, auto parts and medical equipment.

DHL announced on June 20 that it had begun weekly express freight train service from Chengdu in western China across Kazakhstan and ultimately to Poland. Some of H.P.’s rivals in the electronics industry are in various stages of starting to use the route for exports from China, freight executives said.

The Silk Road was never a single route, but a web of paths taken by caravans of camels and horses that began around 120 B.C., when Xi’an in west-central China — best known for its terra cotta warriors — was China’s capital. The caravans started across the deserts of western China, traveled through the mountain ranges along China’s western borders with what are now Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and then journeyed across the sparsely populated steppes of Central Asia to the Caspian Sea and beyond.

These routes flourished through the Dark Ages and the early medieval period in Europe. But as maritime navigation expanded in the 1300s and 1400s, and as China’s political center shifted east to Beijing, China’s economic activity also moved toward the coast.

Today, the economic geography is changing again. Labor costs in China’s eastern cities have surged in the last decade, so manufacturers are trying to reduce costs by moving production west to the nation’s interior. Trucking products from the new inland factories to coastal ports is costly and slow. High oil prices have made airfreight exorbitantly expensive and prompted the world’s container shipping lines to reduce sharply the speed of their vessels.

Slow steaming cuts oil consumption, but the resulting delays have infuriated shippers of high-value electronics goods like H.P’s. Such delays drive up their costs and make it harder to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand in distant markets.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/business/global/hauling-new-treasure-along-the-silk-road.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

China to provide support in constructing a regional railway hub

By Imaduddin

PESHAWAR: China is to provide all kind of financial and technical support in the construction of a regional railway hub for Pakistan, said Director Pakistan Study Centre Sichuan University Chengdu China Dr Chen Jidong.

Speaking as a key note speaker at the one day seminar on prospects of Pak China Relations at University of Peshawar (UoP), Dr Chen Jidong said the active promotion of construction of the railway project will connect Pakistan with Xinjiang region in China and will enhance the capacity of transportation between two countries not only by land but also add to a new outbound transportation line for western China.

He said that the project is the greatest advantage of Pakistan, and will build trade and transport corridors by connecting South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Western China owing to the country’s geographical advantages.

Dr Chen said that Pakistan has a railway network not younger than the year 1861, aging by the day and needs arduous upgrading.

Some external powers are creating serious law and order situation in Balochistan, with the evil design to halt the expected development of the area through Gwadar port operations, said the Chinese strategic analyst Prof. Zhon Rong.

He added the taking over of operations of Gwadar Port by a Chinese company in the recent past to go with the railway project, can transform Pakistan into economic giant of the 21st Century. Let me tell the Pakistani people that Gwadar Port is first for the development of Pakistan and then any other country, he added.

Continue reading China to provide support in constructing a regional railway hub

NATO Reaches Transit Deal With Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

NATO reached an agreement with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to ship military equipment out of Afghanistan through Central Asia, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reported today:

We also reached agreement on reverse transit from Afghanistan with three Central Asian partners: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. These agreements will give us a range of new options and the robust and flexible transport network we need….

With Russia we have a transit arrangement, a reverse transit arrangement already, and the fact that we have now concluded a transit arrangement, three concrete transit arrangements with Central Asian countries at the Chicago Summit, will make the use of the Russian transit arrangement even more effective.

Read more » http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65494

Pakistan and India: apples and oranges? – Dr Manzur Ejaz

…. Most Pakistanis and Indians equate Pakistan with the Muslim world and start idealising or criticising it, as if religion is the single most important denominator. Pakistanis project themselves to be part of the so-called ummah in self-denial of their own real history to idealise their past and Indians find it convenient to put Pakistan in a religious category and demonise it. Pakistanis believe they are heirs of Muslim rule and their opponents believe in the same notion as well. In short, Pakistani and Indian nationalists agree on this point.

The fact of the matter is that most of the Muslims living in Pakistan are converts of lower layers of different castes. Till the time of the partition their status as a lowly mass of peasants, artisans and labourers continued. Muslim feudal lords mostly owned land and urban centres were completely run by the Hindu elite. Muslims of the present Pakistan had hardly any representation in the business community, bureaucracy, or education. During the entire Muslim rule, their status remained similar to the untouchables who converted to Christianity during the British rule. Therefore, other than a small percentage of Urdu speakers who may have come from the old ruling Muslim elite, it is misleading for the Pakistanis to idealise themselves as heirs to Muslim ruling elites who had descended from Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East. …

Read more >> WICHAAR

US options in the Kyrgyzstan crisis – By Zeenia Satti

Courtesy: The News

The April revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan is the last nail in the coffin of the United States’ plans to use the Afghan Northern Alliance as the stepping stone to Central Asia’s energy-rich states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and, ultimately, to Azerbaijan on the other side of the Caspian.

Continue reading US options in the Kyrgyzstan crisis – By Zeenia Satti

Kyrgyzstan revolution underway!

Opposition followers killed Kyrgyzstan’s interior minister, took the deputy prime minister hostage and captured state television in a deadly revolt Wednesday against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.…

Uprising in Kyrgyzstan leaves dozens killed

By PETER LEONARD, Associated Press

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Opposition leaders declared they had seized power in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, taking control of security headquarters, a state TV channel and other government buildings after clashes between police and protesters left dozens dead in this Central Asian nation that houses a key U.S. air base.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who came to power in a similar popular uprising five years ago, was said to have fled to the southern city of Osh, and it was difficult to gauge how much of the impoverished, mountainous country the opposition controlled.

“The security service and the Interior Ministry … all of them are already under the management of new people,” Rosa Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister who the opposition leaders said would head the interim government, told the Russian-language Mir TV channel.

Continue reading Kyrgyzstan revolution underway!

The “Paris of Sindh”

Shikarpur was the major trading center where caravans from Central Asia, China and India met, much before the time of the British. Shikapuri merchants provided banking services for secure transfer of funds, so merchants could transmit funds without having to carry them back and forth. Shikarpuri merchants formed the backbone of import export business in central Asia, returning home every few years.

Now the world has become the playground for the descents of these traders. The Hindujas are one family from Shikarpur who are now billionaires with far flung business empire in the UK, Switzerland, India and other places. Feeling compelled to leave Shikarpur and their homes behind, they restarted and made their fortune in international trade.

The Silk route & the ancient Indus Valley

By Aftab Kazi, PhD

Silk was among the items exported from the ancient Indus Valley emporiums to Mesopotamian city-states approximately 4000 years ago through both land and sea-borne silk-routes. Historically China has maintained cross-continental trade through the port cities of the Indus Basin River state, i.e. Sindh, Ind, Hind, Al-Hind respectively, the land areas that are now called Pakistan. Most recent early medieval example is that of the Kushan Empire (included land areas comprising modern Central Asia, Pakistan with a thin inland incursion into Bharat up to Mathura) which also had an excellent relationship with China. Both empires traded silk, spices, malmal (cotton cloth made in Sindh), indigo, etc all the way to Roman Empire through the Indus port city of Barbarikon (ruins of Barbarikon are likely to be that of Bhambhore located approximately 50 klometers from modern Karachi. This was the sea-borne silk-route link. Suez Canal did not exist then.

Ships sailed from Barbarikon via the coast of modern Oman and Arabia, entered Red Sea, from where they used the delta canals of River Niles to enter Mediterranean, hence traveled to Greece and Rome. There were two routes to sail. One for winter and the other for summer. I have cited this sea-borne Silk-route in my chapter on Pakistan in SF Starr (ed.) New Silk Roads:…, (Washington, DC: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 2007). Earliest records of ancient Silk-routes are available in the travel accounts of Sindhbad, an inhabitant of Sindh (modern Pakistan) under the title of “Sindhbad’s travels”, also spelled as “Sindbad”. Although somewhat fictionalized, this book is the most earliest treatise available on ancient Silk Roads. This book was translated from ancient Sindhi to Persian in medieval times and has been further translated into several modern languages including the English language…

Source – http://www.silkroadstudies.org/new/inside/staff/staff_ web/aftab_kazi.htm

http://www.aftabkazi.com