On 21 February 2013, the Government of Pakistan deposited an application for accession to COTIF.
The accession procedure should be concluded by September 2013. Pakistan will therefore become the 49th Member State of OTIF.
Pakistan’s accession is linked to the initiative by the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to set up a rail link for trains carrying containers between Islamabad and Istanbul via Tehran, which might one day be extended to western Europe and southern Asia. Various auxiliary lines will link up with this corridor.
Pakistan’s rail network covers almost 7,800 km. Most lines are 1676 mm gauge, except for a very few narrow gauge lines. There are also some projects looking in particular at establishing rail links towards China (682 km) and Afghanistan (900 km).
Applying the rules of COTIF will also enable freight traffic between Turkey, Iran and Pakistan to be developed, thanks largely to the CIM consignment note, which makes border crossing much easier.
In the long term, it would seem that Pakistan’s accession to COTIF will mean not just that OTIF has another Member State, but that an entire region will be opened up to OTIF, and in future, this region will be able to benefit from the law of COTIF.