Motorways in Pakistan
Pakistan is home to a network of motorways that serve as major transportation corridors in the country, connecting major cities and providing a fast and efficient means of transportation. Pakistan Motorways link cities and make well-known tourist destinations easily approachable. The first Motorway in Pakistan was the M-2, which runs from Lahore to Islamabad, and it became operational in 1997. Since then, the List of Motorways in Pakistan has expanded to sixteen.
In this blog post, we will delve into the detail of Total Motorways in Pakistan and how they have evolved. We will also discuss the role of the National Highway Authority (NHA) in the management and maintenance of motorways in the country.
List of Motorways in Pakistan and their Routes
Pakistan Motorways are a system of multiple lanes, fast-moving and controlled access routes. There are 16 Total Motorways in Pakistan. In this List of Motorways in Pakistan, 11 motorways are in full service, and four more are either under development or will become operational in the future. In addition, there is one Motorway that is partially operational and is under construction simultaneously.
The National Highway Authority (NHA), which supervises the whole network of elevated intercity motorways in Pakistan with control exit and entry points, is responsible for maintaining the following List of Motorways in Pakistan:
|Name of Motorway||Route|
|M3- Motorway||Lahore–Abdul Hakeem|
|M4- Motorway||Pindi Bhattian–Multan|
|M10- Motorway||Karachi Northern Bypass|
|M14- Motorway||Islamabad–D. I Khan|
|M15- Motorway||Hasan Abdal–Thakot|
Peshawar – Islamabad Motorway (M-1)
M-1 Motorway is an essential Motorway included in the list of Motorways in Pakistan. It is an important route for both passenger and commercial traffic. The Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway (M-1) is a central transportation corridor in Pakistan that connects the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with the capital city of Islamabad in Punjab province. The M-1 Motorway is approximately 155 kilometers long and became operational in 2007. It is a six-lane controlled-access motorway with a speed limit of 120 kilometers per hour. M1 has become a crucial route to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The extensively used N5 experiences a significant reduction in traffic due to the M-1. The M-1 Motorway is famous for its high construction and maintenance standards and is a safer and more efficient route.
M-1 Motorway has 27 minor bridges, 137 underpasses, 18 flyovers, 571 culverts, 14 interchanges, and crossing bridges. M-1 Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway traverses the Kabul, Haro, and Indus rivers with the help of three major bridges.
Islamabad – Lahore (M-2)
The M-2 Motorway holds the distinction of being the first-ever Motorway built among Pakistan Motorways and the first-ever Motorway built in South Asia. The M2 Islamabad-Lahore Motorway, which runs 375 kilometers across the picturesque countryside of Punjab, became operational in 1997. It is a six-lane highway with 22 interchanges located at various locations, including the M2-M1 Junction, Thalian Interchange, Chakri Interchange, Neelah Dullah Interchange M-2, Kallar Kahar Interchange, Lilla Interchange, Bhera Interchange, Kot Momin Interchange, Makhdoom Interchange, Babu Sabu Interchange, etc. The Pakistan Air Force may utilize it to land or take off many fighter jets, which is a fascinating quality of M-2. On each side of the M-2 Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, at five locations, there are petrol pumps and service areas. Kalar Kahar Service Area and Chakri Service Area are some rest areas. Each fueling and service terminal is typically 60–80 kilometers apart. These rest spots along the M2 Lahore-Islamabad Motorway are home to some of Pakistan’s most well-known restaurants.
Lahore – Abdul Hakeem (M-3)
The construction of the M3 Motorway began in December 2015, and it began operational in March 2019. It is one of Pakistan’s most used motorways and spans 230 kilometers between Abdul Hakeem and Lahore. It begins its journey at the M2 Motorway’s intersection in Lahore and stretches to the junction of the M4 Pindi Bhattian-Multan Motorway in Abdul Hakeem. Like most of the Motorways of Pakistan, M-3 is a 6-lane highway with four interchanges, including the Vehari Road Interchange, the Bahawalpur Road Interchange, Shah Shams Tabrez Interchange, and the Sher Shah Interchange. There is a facility of three rest stops and gas stations as well.
Pindi Bhattian – Multan (M-4)
Included in the list of operational Motorways of Pakistan, the M-4 Pindi Bhattian-Multan Motorway is a 309 km long roadway with four lanes on each side of the highway to help with massive traffic flow. It is a source of connection between several localities in the Punjab province, such as Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Shorkot, and Khanewal. Similar to other well-traveled Pakistan Motorways, the M-4 highway has multiple interchanges that connect it to some of the most crucial highways, including the M-2, M-3, and M-5 Motorways of Pakistan.
Multan – Sukkur Motorway (M-5)
The M-5 Motorway, which connects Multan and Sukkur, became operational in November 2019. The M-5 Multan-Sukkur Motorway, with 392 kilometers in length, is only a portion of the intended 1,100-kilometer Karachi-Peshawar Motorway. Since it significantly cuts down on the time it takes to carry commodities from the Karakorum Highway to Karachi and Gwadar, the M-5 highway is one of the CPECC’s essential projects. It is a 6-lane highway with 11 interchanges joining various cities of Punjab like Multan, Sukkur, Sadiqabad, Rahim Yar Khan, etc. M-5 highway features 426 underpasses, ten flyovers, ten rest places, and 12 service areas.
Sukkur – Hyderabad Motorway (M-6)
The M6 Motorway, which connects Sukkur with Hyderabad, is currently under construction and has yet to be opened for transportation. In 2024, it will start operating. Its building project is a component of the broader China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Eastern Alignment (CPEC). The installation of this highway will cost about $1.7 billion. Likewise other Motorways of Pakistan, the M-6 will be a six-lane, 120 km/hr high-speed highway with 243 underpasses, 89 bridges, and 15 interchanges. The M-6 highway, which would be 306 kilometers long, will make it possible to connect Peshawar and Karachi.
Dadu – Hub (M-7)
Among the total Motorways in Pakistan, Dadu-Hub (M-7) is the Motorway under construction and is still pending. After its development, M-7 will be a source of connection between the cities of Dadu in the Sindh province and Hub in the Balochistan province. The proposed length of Dadu-Hub (M-7) is 270 kilometers. M-7 connects Ratodero to Karachi in around 540 kilometers and is a part of the north-south route from Islamabad to Karachi.
Ratodero – Gwadar (M-8)
Among the total Motorways in Pakistan, Ratodero – Gwadar M-8 Motorway is the longest highway compared to the other Pakistan Motorways. It has a massive length of 892 kilometers. M-8 is the only Motorway included in the list of Motorways in Pakistan that is under construction and partially operational simultaneously. It provides a connection between Sukkur – Larkana, to Gwadar. (M-8) would begin from Ratodero in the province of Sindh and travel across Balochistan, passing close to the cities of Khuzdar and Turbat before connecting to the Makran Coastal Highway just east of the Gwadar. In Balochistan Province, the M8 will travel close to the Mirani Dam and cross the Dasht River. It will have a total of four lanes.
Hyderabad – Karachi (M-9)
By connecting Karachi and Hyderabad, the two largest cities in Sindh, the M9 Hyderabad-Karachi Motorway is one of the most significant Motorways in Pakistan. The authorities erected the M-9 over the Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway. The renovation of this highway generated a 6-lane motorway with controlled exit and entry points. M-9 is 136 kilometers long and has eight interchanges built along its length. Along the M-9 Expressway are some of Karachi’s most prominent housing societies, such as Bahria Town and DHA. One of South Asia’s longest interchanges on Motorway-9 has recently opened for transportation with an innovative infrastructure. The interchange creates an immediate connection between Bahria Town in Karachi and Sukkur. The portion of the highway that runs through the trade-off is a 400-meter-wide, 18-laned two-way carriageway to help travelers.
Additionally, the Shaikh Zayd Road in Dubai inspired the architecture of the recently completed interchange. The National Highway Authority (NHA) and the Federal Government are now developing a plan to expand the M9 Motorway’s six to eight lanes. The primary goal is to manage the movement of vehicles on the busiest Pakistan Motorways.
Karachi Northern Bypass (M-10)
One of the significant Motorways of Pakistan, the Karachi Northern Bypass, also known as the M10 Motorway, is 57 kilometers long. This two-lane expressway became operational in 2007, and there are plans to add four lanes soon. M-10 is an immediate connection between Karachi Port and the M-9 Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway. The transporters can go between the two locations as quickly as possible with the aid of the M-10 Motorway. The National Highway Authority (NHA) has granted this route the designation of a motorway, providing it with the official name of M-10 Karachi Motorway. The M-10 highway features three major interchanges: the M9 interchange, the Trumpet Intersection, and the N-25 Interchange. It runs from Muhammad Ali Jinnah Road to the KPT flyover.
Lahore – Sialkot (M-11)
Coming 11th on the list of Motorways in Pakistan, the Sialkot-Lahore Motorway (M-11) is a north-south highway that runs across eastern portions of Punjab to connect the cities of Sialkot and Lahore. The Government spent a heavy amount of 44 Billion on its construction. M-11 became fully operational on 18 March 2020. Instead of taking the longer alternate path via the N-5, which is 145 km long and takes more than 2 hours, it now takes just 50 minutes to go between Sialkot and Lahore, thanks to M-11. M-11 is 103 kilometers long in total. This four-lane highway comprises 20 bridges, eight flyovers, nine interchanges, and 18 underpasses. Through the Lahore Link Road at Kala Shah Kaku, M-11 directly connects the M2 and N5. The route follows GT Road, going east of Gujranwala, Kamoki, and Daska before finishing in Sambrial.
Sialkot – Kharian Motorway (M-12)
M-12 is one of those Motorways of Pakistan which are under construction and still need to be operational. Pakistan’s M-12 highway, also known as the Sialkot-Kharian highway, has been under construction since July 2022. It will serve as a connection between the cities of Sialkot and Kharian. By its completion, M-12 will comprise 69 kilometers, with five interchanges, a service facility, and a 1 km (0.62 mi) long bridge across the Chenab River. With a design speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) and a two-year projected completion date, the M-12 will be a four-lane (and potentially six-lane) highway.
Kharian – Rawalpindi (M-13)
M-13 is also one of those Pakistan Motorways under construction and still needs to be operational. Pakistan’s M-13 highway, also known as the Kharian- Rawalpindi highway, has been under construction since September 2022. As suggested by its name, M-13 will serve as a connection between Kharian and Rawalpindi. By the time of completion of this 117 km (73 mi) long expressway, it would cross the Salt Range between Dina and Sohawa via two twin-tube tunnels of 1.3 km (0.81 mi) and 0.6 km (0.37 mi), respectively. It will also have 26 bridges, including one over the River Jhelum, eight interchanges, and two service areas. With a design speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) and a two-year projected completion date, the M-13 will be a four-lane (and potentially six-lane) motorway. Compared to the M2 Motorway, the new M-13 will cut the distance between Islamabad and Lahore by one hour. It will also relieve traffic from the overcrowded N5 Highway, which runs alongside the M-13 Motorway.
Islamabad – Dera Ismail Khan Motorway (M-14)
Like most Pakistan Motorways, the M-14 Motorway in Pakistan is a four-lane North-South highway known as the Islamabad-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway and the Hakla-Yarik Motorway. M-14 provides high-speed road connections between the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan region and the southern regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province surrounding Dera Ismail Khan. Likewise, for most of the highways included in the list of Motorways in Pakistan, this 285-kilometer-long (177 mi) highway is a part of the Western Alignment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This four-lane highway stretches from Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the Hakla Interchange on the M-1 Motorway, close to Fateh Jang in Punjab. Inaugurated on 5 January 2022, M-14 contains 119 underpasses, 33 flyovers, 36 bridges, and 11 interchanges. Additionally, it includes a 100-meter-wide right-of-way to allow for future expansion of the four-lane road to six lanes if traffic demand rises.
Hasan Abdal – Thakot (M15)
Constructed in seven sections, this multi-lane Hazara Motorway, commonly known as the M-15 Motorway, is 180 kilometers long. The Government finished and inaugurated the first four sections of M-15 in 2017 and the remaining parts in 2019 and 2020. Hasan Abdal- Thakot Motorway showcases innovative infrastructure. M-15 connects Havelian, Abbottabad, Haripur, Shinkiari, Battagram, Mansehra, and Thakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with the Burhan Interchange near Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province. Some of the tallest bridges in the nation and numerous well-maintained interchanges with sufficient security measures connect the whole path. Like other Motorways of Pakistan, M-15 is also a crucial component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Swabi – Chakdara Motorway (M-16)
The Swabi – Chakdara Motorway, also known as the M-16 or Swat Motorway, is a four-lane provincial controlled-access highway in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with a length of 160 kilometers (99 mi). The project’s first phase, finished in June 2019, connects the M-1 highway at Nowshera to Chakdara, while the second phase, currently under construction, will extend the road to Fatehpur. Phase-1 of M-16 passes from Nowshera to Chakdara in Lower Dir District, traversing through Mardan, Swabi, Malakand, and Swat districts. The construction of M-16 decreased the travel time from Nowshera to Chakdara from three hours to one hour. Phase two of M-16 is under construction and will contain eight bridges and nine interchanges.
What is the Importance of a Motorway?
Pakistan heavily depends on trade with its allies. The Pakistan motorways are crucial because they are a part of the National Trade Corridor Project, which aims to connect Pakistan with three vital seaports on the Arabian Sea- Port Bin Qasim, Gwadar, and Karachi Port—and the rest of the nation. The roads facilitate quick travel between China, Afghanistan, Iran, and other nearby countries. There are several reasons why motorways are essential:
- Efficiency: Motorways can help reduce congestion on other roads, providing an alternative route for long-distance travel. This feature can help improve traffic flow and reduce travel times.
- Economic development: Motorways can help to stimulate economic growth by providing a faster and more efficient means of transportation for goods and people. This feature can increase trade and commerce and attract businesses and tourists to an area.
- Environmental benefits: Motorways can help reduce air pollution by reducing the time vehicles spend idling in traffic. They can also reduce the number of cars on the road, which can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What About Motorway Speed Limits in Pakistan?
The speed limits of the total Motorways in Pakistan vary depending on the type of vehicle and the specific Motorway. Generally, the speed limit for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles on motorways is 120 kilometers per hour (km/h). In contrast, the speed limit for buses and heavy goods vehicles is 100 km/h.
It is important to note that it is the responsibility of drivers to adhere to the posted speed limits and to drive at a safe speed for the conditions. Breaking the speed limit or driving at an unsafe speed can result in fines, points on a driver’s license, and in severe cases, criminal charges.
1. Why is it called a motorway?
The word “motorway” includes the word “motor,” which refers to an engine that powers a vehicle. A motorway is a type of roadway that is specifically for use by motor vehicles, such as cars, trucks, and buses. The purpose of a highway is to provide a high-speed route for long-distance travel, particularly for vehicles traveling between cities and towns.
2. Why are Pakistan Motorways safer than other roads?
Motorways are generally safer than other types of roads because their design is suitable for high-speed travel and has fewer intersections and other potential sources of accidents. There are at least two lanes in each direction of a Motorway, separated by a median strip. This feature helps to reduce the risk of head-on collisions and other types of accidents caused by vehicles traveling in opposite directions.
Some of the features that contribute to the safety of total Motorways in Pakistan include:
- Controlled Access
- Divided Roadway
- Wide Shoulders
- Median Barriers
- Signs and Markings
3. Why is transportation important for tourism?
Transportation plays a crucial role in the ability of tourists to travel to and from their destinations. Transportation can make the travel experience more convenient for tourists by providing various options, such as air travel, ground transportation, and public transit. Transportation can also be an essential part of the overall tourist experience, as it can provide a sense of adventure and exploration. For example, traveling by train or boat can be a unique and memorable tourist experience.
In conclusion, motorways play a vital role in the transportation system of Pakistan. They provide a fast and efficient means of travel for people and goods, helping connect significant cities and regions and stimulate economic development. Motorways are also generally safer than other types of roads due to their design features and controlled access. While the construction and maintenance of highways can be expensive, they offer significant benefits in terms of safety, efficiency, and economic growth. Hence, the Government and other stakeholders must continue investing in developing and improving motorways in Pakistan.