Interview with Malik Naeem Azam — Global Ambassador, Commonwealth Entrepreneurs’ Club
Malik Naeem Azam (CMILT UK, IAMSP USA)
Member: Global Ambassador – Commonwealth Entrepreneurs’ Club
Chartered Member: Institute of Logistics & Transport UK
Member: International Association of Marine & Shipping Professionals (IAMCS) USA
- Economist, Logistician, Mariner, Researcher New Trade Lanes
- Trade – CIS Transit-RPEC, CPEC & ATT Transit Trade
- Over 30 years of professional experience in shipping, logistics & maritime
- Served in worldwide organizations
- A strong communicator and team leader with a pulse on ever-changing industry trends that will strategically build and maintain profitable business relationships.
PAGE: Pakistan ranks 122 in the Logistics Performance Index which is the lowest in South Asia. What is your take on it?
Malik Naeem Azam: Pakistan as per the World Bank report of 2023 is standing at 2.43 and India as per the World Bank report of 2023 is standing at 3.40. If we compare Pakistan with other Southeast Asian countries, Pakistan is still located in such a geographical location which is a gateway for all landlocked countries in (CIS) Central Asian countries such as China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and others (business consultancy report enclosed). This CIS trade corridor has a huge potential which is almost $90 billion.
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
- Transit to Afghanistan & CIS countries via Pakistan routes.
- Russia-Pakistan Economic Corridor (RPEC).
- Saudi Pakistan Economic Corridor (SPEC), an energy gateway for China via Gwadar Port.
PAGE: How could the cost of logistics be reduced in Pakistan?
Malik Naeem Azam: There are two possibilities to reduce the cost of logistics such as:
1) Continues conventional ways of cheap energy & oil supplies.
2) Railroad infrastructure in the region.
a) China is investing $58 billion to build up infrastructure within Pakistan and up to China and other borders of Pakistan.
b) Uzbekistan is investing $8 billion to build up a railway line from Mazar-e-Shareef Uzbekistan/Afghanistan border to Torkham Pakistan and Afghanistan border to boost trade via Railways from Karachi to all major destinations to Central Asian States (CIS).
PAGE: What kind of modernization has taken place in the logistics and transportation sector of Pakistan over the period of the preceding two decades?
Malik Naeem Azam: Transport in Pakistan is extensive and serves a population of over 240 million people. In recent years, new national highways have been built, with the addition of motorways which have improved trade and logistics within the country. Pakistan’s rail network owned by Pakistan Railways is also undergoing expansion in recent years. Airports and seaports have been built with the addition of foreign and domestic funding.
The motorway passes through the Salt Range mountains:
The construction of motorways began in the early 1990s, with the idea of building a world-class road network and reducing the load on the heavily used national highways throughout the country. The M-2 was the first motorway completed in 1998, linking the cities of Islamabad and Lahore. In the past 5 years, many new motorways have opened up, including the M-1 and M-4. The M-4 is operational and connects the cities of Pindi Bhatian (M- 2), Faisalabad and Multan via Gojra, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Shorkot, Pir Mahal and Khanewal. In 2019 M-3 became operational, which connects Lahore with Multan through Abdul Hakeem and the existing M4 near Multan. It terminates at the M-5, which became operational in 2019. The M-5 leads to the Sukkur District of Sindh. There, the M-6 (which is proposed with construction work to begin soon) will start; the M-6 will end at Hyderabad, where it will meet the existing M-9 motorway to Karachi. In addition to this, the M-8 in Balochistan province, the longest motorway in Pakistan, is half under construction, and half operational. In central Punjab, the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (M-11) is under construction and will be operational by next year, and in KPK province, the Hakka-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway (M-14) is also under construction. Swat Motorway has been completed and is operational up to Chakdarra. Hazara Motorway is one more expressway under construction in KPK province.
Construction stands as:
- Total: 263,775 km
- Paved: 152,033 km (Including 1600 km of Motorway and 300 km of Expressways)
- Unpaved: 105,650 km (2001)
- Vehicles on the road: 4.2 million vehicles 250,000 commercial vehicles (2004 estimate)
The National Highway Authority is responsible for the maintenance of all national highways in Pakistan which includes:
- The Makran Coastal Highway
- The Karakoram Highway
- The Grand Trunk Road
- The Silk Road Expressways
Metro (the Orange Line Metro Train, Lahore)
The Orange Line Metro Train is an automated rapid transit system in Lahore. The line consists of 26 subway stations and is designed to carry over 250,000 passengers daily.
Karachi Circular Railway is a partially active regional public transit system in Karachi, which serves the Karachi metropolitan area. KCR was fully operational between 1969 and 1999. Since 2001, restoration of the railway and restarting the system had been sought. In November 2020, the KCR partially revived operations. Track of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Metrobus with the adjoining station. Lahore Metrobus is a bus rapid transit service operating in the city of Lahore.
- Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus is a 83.6 km (51.9 mi) bus rapid transit system operating in the Islamabad Rawalpindi metropolitan area.
- Multan Metrobus is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Multan.
- Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit (Peshawar BRT)
- Green Line Metrobus is the first phase of the Karachi Metrobus that is operational in Karachi.
The waterway network in Pakistan is in its infancy, with Karachi being the only major city situated next to the Arabian Sea. Still, plans are being proposed for the development of the waterways in the country along the Indus River and through the Punjab as it would boost employment opportunities and the economic and social development of Pakistan.
- Port of Gwadar – Gwadar, Balochistan
- Port of Karachi – Karachi (City Centre), Sindh
- Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT)
- Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT)
- South Asian Pakistan Terminal Limited (SAPT)
- Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT)
PAGE: What is your perspective on logistics policies in Pakistan?
Malik Naeem Azam: As a logistician and marine professional, I must emphasize putting our energy to boost trade via Pakistan to China and Central Asian countries corridor where the major revenues can be generated and the future of Pakistan is connected with trade via CPEC & CIS routes.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a framework of regional connectivity. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republic, and the region. The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation systems with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people-to-people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge and culture, the activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation by the win-win model will result in the well connected, integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a journey toward economic regionalization in the globalized world. It founded peace, development, and a win-win model for all of them. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the hope of a better region in the future with peace, development and growth of the economy.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s alignment for efficient delivery of cargo to Central Asia, Eurasia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, the Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and India gives it great leverage as a land transit country. The CPEC will not only benefit Pakistan and China but will also have a positive impact on the region. The relationship will result in enhanced regional connectivity through improved road, rail and air infrastructure, which will translate into higher trade volumes, increased production of energy and enhanced cooperation regionally.