ML-2, mainly known as Main Line 2, is a major rail tracks of Pakistan among five main lines. It connects Attock junction in north-western punjab with Kotri in upper Sindh. It’s main stations are Attock, Jand, Mianwali, kundian, Bhakkar, Kot adu, Layyah, Dera ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Kashmore, kandkot, Jacobabad, Larkana, Shewan sharif, Sindh university, Jamshoro and Kotri Junction comprises of more than 1500 km track. However, it’s guage is like other Pakistani tracks of 1676 mm known as broad guage.
The present-day Kotri–Attock Railway Line was built as a patchwork of different railways during the 19th and 20th centuries by North Western State Railway and Pakistan Railways. The present day line consists of the following historic lines:
- Mari–Attock Railway opened in 1891 as a 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge railway line between Mari Indus and Attock. In 1895 it was extended to Mianwali.
- The Jacobabad–Kashmore Railway (also known as the Upper Sind Light Railway) opened in 1914 as a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge railway line between Jacobabad and Kashmore.
- The Larkana–Jacobabad Light Railway (also known as the Sind Light Railway) opened in 1924 as a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge railway line between Larkana and Jacobabad.
In 1956, Pakistan Western Railway converted all 3 sections from 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge. Between 1969 and 1973, Pakistan Western Railways completed the gap section between Kashmore–Mari Indus and the line was also extended from Larkana to Kotri, thus linking Kotri to Attock. In 2010, this line was designated Main Line 2 by Pakistan Railways to provide an alternative North–South route to the heavily used Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line.
what are the prime benefits that Pakistan can get from ML-2?
As ML-2 lies on Western Punjab including areas that are fertile but not densly populated compared to both of the sides i.e. Eastern punjab of Pakistan and KPK to its west. The largest area of land has neither constructions nor cultivation and looks like a desert (as world recalls it as Thal desert) but in reality it is one of the most fertile lands in the region having good quality water just 40 feet beneath the surface. Further more, the land has ability to produce many agriculture products itself. If ML-2 develops in real sense as ML-1 then population will divert to these lands and increase in agriculture as well as in urbanization will not only cause increase in Agro based economy of the country but also lead to a boom in industrialization. If the step is taken seriously then it will boost GDP growth and per Capita income of the country, reduce unemployment and ultimately contribute in raising status of Pakistan.
The second benefit is that of the military. Military has now acquired most advanced techniques and fighting jets are quite high-tech, so much that it takes them some space not time to gain very altitudes but unfortunately in the middle of Pakistan, only MM Alam Air Base in Mianwali survived. By increasing attention in this area, more air bases as well as military cantonments can be built to safeguard rights and interests of Pakistan against enemy by putting to use a strategic place in middle of Pakistan.
The other benefit is equality of budget. This side of Punjab has long been ignored by Punjab government due to its less budget. As due to more and more development, the population will hope to migrate to these developing cities of western side and pressure on eastern side will reduce, which would cause equal deployment of budget throughout Punjab posing equal opportunities to all citizens.
As CPEC is under construction in Pakistan, which may result in increasing of trade pressure upto some 10 times in next 10-15 years which will not possible to be channelled only by ML-1, hence ML-2 will help a lot in booming of Pakistan’s economy in up coming years.
The tourism industry of Sindh can increase upto many folds if ML-2 develops as many tourist sites lie on the route of ML-2. These include Mohenjo-Daro, Ranikot, Kinjher, Gorakh hill and Kot diji sites and many more which are located near or on ML-2. This will not increase only tourism in Sindh but also increase revenue of Railway and create a lot of job opportunities.
If ML-2 develops then the distance and time consuming between karachi to Peshawar will decrease upto 5-6 hours causing huge benefit to travellers and it can also in future, link North-Balochistan by connecting it via development of a branch or another main line.
There are many many other benefit of ML-2 for the progress and prosperity of the country however it needs serious and timely attention of the government. Government is keen to develop this section under private-public opportunity but still it is slow. It is hoped that the government will take more interest in the future and completes it in the great interest of the country.
About The Author
Saad Bin Ubaid studies Mathematics at Quaid-i-Azam University. He is interested in National Security as well as Agricultural and Industrial development. He is a keen observer of International Relations and Strategic Affairs.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.