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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The History of Transportation in Pakistan

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Roads are considered as major source of transportation and are categorized as Motorways and Highways.


The construction of motorways began in the early 1990s with the idea building a world class road network and to reduce the load off the heavily used national highways throughout the country. The M2 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 M1 and M4. The M4 is partially operational while half is under construction and connects the cities of Pindi Bhatian (M2), Faislabad and Multan via Gojra, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Shorkot, Pir Mahal and Khanewal. M3 is under construction which will connect Lahore with Multan through Abdul Hakeem and Existing M4, near Multan it will terminate to under construction M5, which will lead to Sukkhur District of Sindh, where begin the M6 which is proposed and work will began soon on this portion too, and end at Hyderabad where it touch the existing M9 Motorway to Karachi. Addition to this, M8 in Baluchistan province is half under construction, half operational, which is also the longest motorway of Pakistan. In central Punjab the Lahore – Sialkot Motorway M11 is Under construction and will be operational by next year, and in KPK province Hakka – Dera Ismail Khan Motorway M14 is also under construction. While Swat Motorway and Hazara Motorways are two Expressway under construction in KPK province too.


During the 1990s, Pakistan began an ongoing project to rebuild all national highways throughout the country specifically to important financial, cargo and textile centers. The National Highway Authority or NHA is responsible for the maintenance of all national highways in Pakistan.

  1. The Makran Coastal Highway follows the coast of Sindh and Balochistan provinces, linking Karachi and Gwadar. Journey time has been reduced to six or seven hours with the construction of the new Coastal Highway. The highway was built as part of an overall plan to improve transport facilities in southern Balochistan.
  2. The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass.
  3. The Grand Trunk Road (commonly abbreviated to GT Road) is one of South Asia’s oldest and longest major roads. For several centuries, it has linked the eastern and western regions of the South Asia, running from Bengal, across north India, into Peshawar in Pakistan.
  4. The Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, including North Africa and Europe. It passes through the midsection of Pakistan through cities: Peshawar, Taxila and Multan.


Pakistan Railways is a national state-owned railway company founded in 1861. It comprises seven territorial operating divisions including Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Sukkur and owns 7,400 miles (11,881 km) of track across Pakistan, stretching from Torkham to Karachi and operates both freight and passenger train services. In 2014, the Ministry of Railways launched “Pakistan Railways Vision 2025” which seeks to reinvigorate Pakistan Railways by increasing its share in the transportation sector from 4% to 20% by 2025 along with the ₨ 886.68 billion (US$8.4 billion) China–Pakistan Economic Corridor railway upgrade. The plan includes the acquisition of new locomotives, development and improvement of current rail infrastructure, increase of average train speeds, improvements of punctuality and expansion of passenger services. The first phase of the project was completed in 2017, while the second phase will be completed by 2021.

Civil Aviation

Civil aviation plays an important role in the development of a country’s economy by providing fast and efficient access between different parts of the country as well as different destinations around the world. Private participation on this front has been encouraged through concessions and incentives for development of airports and airlines to increase the availability of air transport services both domestically and internationally. It is important to construct and maintain airports in the country to facilitate economic activity in an increasingly globalized world. The Pakistan aviation industry started with Orient Airways, founded on 23 October 1946. Orient Airways commenced operations with four Douglas DC-3s on 4 June 1947 and ceased its operations on 11 March 1955 by merging into the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC; founded in 1954) to become the national flag carrier of Pakistan called Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). PIA remained the main operator since its founding till the early 1990s, although several private airlines initiated and ceased operations during this time. Current Airlines in Pakistan comprises PIA, Air Blue, Askri Aviation, ASSL, Princely Jets, Shaheen Airline, Star Air Aviation, Serene Airline and Vision Airline.


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. Dry and Seaports of Pakistan includes Port of Gwadar – Gwadar, Balochistan, Port of Karachi – Karachi (City Centre), Sindh, Port Qasim – East Karachi, Sindh and Port of Pasni – Pasni, Balochistan. Pakistan has a coast line of 1000 Km and two major ports, port Karachi and port Qasim, that handle 95% of all international trade in the country. Pakistan has 14 dry ports that cater for all external trade. Pakistan’s third and most important port is being built at Gawader.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The History of Transportation in Pakistan. (2019, February 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The History of Transportation in Pakistan.” GradesFixer, 11 Feb. 2019,
Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The History of Transportation in Pakistan. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The History of Transportation in Pakistan [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Feb 11 [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from:
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