By. Justin Mays
Pakistan and Turkey, close allies, relaunch transnational freight train service after a ten-year hiatus. March 4 marks the first journey since 2011 from Istanbul via Iran to Islamabad’s dry port arriving on March 16. The route stretches 6,540 km - more than a sixth of the world's circumference.
The strategic partnership is poised to be a competitive rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and India’s Chabahar Port Project for cargo transport in the Eurasian region. Under the auspices of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) between 2009-2011 eight trains made the journey predating China’s BRI proposal in the region. In light of China and India’s ambitions, Turkey has been jockeying for regional power and with the support of Pakistan has created an ambitious alliance. In a December 2020 meeting Adil Karaismailoglu, Turkey's transport minister, announced in his opening speech that all obstacles for international cargo transportation should be removed in the ECO region.
2021 looks promising for more strategic partnerships between Turkey and Pakistan. Having had close cultural, historical and military relations for years they are well prepared to deepen trade and economic relations. Both founding members of the ECO and members of the Developing 8 Countries, they already enjoy preferential trade and investment agreements especially in transport, telecommunications, and manufacturing. This train service positions both countries well for increased trade. The journey from Istanbul to Islamabad will take ten days, considerably faster than the 21 days via sea between Turkey and Pakistan.
Bilateral framework, including negotiations for the Turkey-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement, will only increase cooperation in 2021. With ever growing relations there has been significant numbers of Pakistanis seeking to buy properties in Turkey. For our Pakistani friends looking for real estate in Turkey, we are well equipped to help you navigate the process.