Pakistan Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

In 2007 Pakistan had a network of approximately 260,000 kilometers of road, of which approximately 173,000 kilometers were major roads and 86,000 kilometers were secondary roads.

According to wholevehicles, Pakistan has a fairly developed road network and a small highway network that is growing rapidly. In 2010, there was only 632 kilometers of highway in Pakistan, this had grown to about 2,000 kilometers in 2020, mostly consisting of 2×2 and 2×3 lane highways. The country has an extensive National Highwaynetwork which is in quite good condition, especially in the Indus basin. There are few roads in the west of the country. Due to banditry, driving in Belochistan, both in Pakistan and Iran, is dangerous. In some areas, especially the National Highway 50 from Quetta to Zahedan in Iran, driving in an armed convoy is necessary. The border area with Afghanistan is also unsafe. Tensions with India in the Kashmir region make travel here dangerous. Not least because of the very mountainous character of this area. There are virtually no roads in the border area with India and most border crossings are closed. The N5, the Karakoram Highway, is a road to China, and is the highest tarmac road in the world at 4,693 meters. Due to unstable political relations with India, instability in Afghanistan and banditry in Baluchistan there is virtually no international traffic to and from Pakistan. There is only traffic between Kabul and Islamabad, as well as from Kandahar to Quetta.

Motorways

Pakistan has a growing network of motorways, which are called motorways or expressways. Most motorways are numbered in a national network of M routes, in addition there are some named expressways and numbered expressways with an E number. Most motorways have 2×3 lanes. Unlike in many Central Asian countries, the highways in Pakistan are better developed, with a modern alignment and completely grade separated, although it is possible that illegal connections to the highways open from villages. There are no intersections on motorways. The highways are characterized by large distances between exits. Most motorways are toll roads.

The largest network of highways is located in the central part of Pakistan, which expanded significantly in the period 2015-2019, since 2019 it is possible to travel by highway between major cities such as Lahore, Islamapad, Peshawar, Multan and Sukkur. In the south of Pakistan, the network is smaller, with a highway between Hyderabad and Karachi and the Lyari Expressway in Karachi itself. The M9 and M10 are not real motorways. The M9 leads to the western port town of Gwadar in Belochistan, the M10 is a single carriageway bypass of Karachi.

Pakistan’s major cities also sometimes have expressways, such as the Lahore Ring Road and the Lyari Expressway in Karachi. In addition, some autonomous regions are developing their own highways, such as the Hazara Motorway and the Swat Expressway.

History

The construction of highways in Pakistan has a recent history, and was first envisioned by President Sharif in the early 1990s. The first highway to be completed was the M2 from Islamabad to Lahore over 367 kilometers in November 1997. This highway has 2×3 lanes and replaces the existing multi-lane N5 between the two cities. It was the first highway built in South Asia. In 2003, a 53-kilometer branch of the M2, the M3 to Faisalabad, opened. The first section of the M1 was opened in 2004, and the motorway between Peshawar and Islamabad was completed in 2007. In 2007, the M10, the Karachi bypass, also opened, which, however, is not a highway. Pakistan’s infrastructure was greatly improved from 2015 with the implementation of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor mega project(CPEC). In the period 2015-2019, a large part of the motorway network in the central part of Pakistan was established, connecting most major cities by motorway. Only the cities in the south of the country such as Karachi and Hyderabad were not yet connected to the north of the country at that time.

Motorways in Pakistan
M1 • M2 • M3 • M4 • M5 • M6 • M7 • M8 • M9 • M10 • M11 • M14 • M16

National highways

The national highways are managed by the National Highway Authority (NHA). Approximately 12,000 kilometers of national highway is managed by the NHA, of which approximately 9,500 kilometers are numbered as N-roads. Due to the small motorway network, the national highways play an important role for through traffic in many places. National highways cover only 4.6% of the total road network, but handle 80% of commercial traffic. Two national highways run along the Indus, the N-5 and N-55. The national highways are numbered in increments of 5, with numbers sometimes being skipped. Above the N-95 a lot of songs are skipped. The dense network of national highways around Larkana is striking compared to other parts of Pakistan.

National highways in Pakistan
N-5 • N-10 • N-15 • N-25 • N-30 • N-35 • N-40 • N-45 • N-50 • N-55 • N-65 • N-70 • N- 75 • N-80 • N-85 • N-90 • N-95 • N-105 • N-110 • N-120 • N-125 • N-155 • N-255 • N-305 • N-455 • N-655

Asian Highways

Asian Highways in Pakistan
AH1 • AH2 • AH4 • AH7 • AH51

Signage

The signage on the highways in Pakistan consists of green signs with white letters, and appears to be derived from British signage. Road numbers are sometimes indicated in plain text, sometimes with a shield, and the signage is in both Urdu and English. Distance signs are regularly posted along the highways, with distances in kilometers, but without the abbreviation “km”.

Signage on National Highways are blue with white lettering. Highway references are shown in a green area.

Markers

Edge markings, both left and right, are in yellow. Markers separating lanes in one direction are in white. The center stripe is usually also white. Sometimes this is the other way around, consistency seems to be lacking.

Road marking

The newer roads often have good road markings, such as guardrails and signs that indicate the bends, these are in yellow with black arrows and sometimes lavish.

Road signs

Pakistan applies the same road signs as in Europe.

Pakistan Road Network