Hairatan is a border town and a port in the north of Balkh province, Afghanistan. It sits along the Amu Darya river in the Kaldar district of Balkh province. The river forms the border with neighboring Uzbekistan, and the two nations are connected by the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge. The city of Termez in Uzbekistan is close to Hairatan. The altitude of Hairatan is 300m. Hairatan became one of the major transporting, shipping, and receiving location for Afghanistan.
In the early 1990s, Hairatan was the location of the 70th Division of General Abdul Momen, who was loosely aligned with Abdul Rashid Dostum's National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. After Momen's death by an RPG missile attack on 5 January 1994, the 70th Division split and Dostam loyalist Colonel General Helaluddin took command.
After the removal of the Taliban government and the establishment of the Karzai administration, the town became an important strategic location for the new government. The new NATO-trained Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) established bases to provide security and maintain border activities. The Afghan Border Police (ABP) are in charge of protecting the border while the Afghan National Customs regulate and monitor all trade activities. They are backed by the Afghan Armed Forces and members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
A freight terminal in Hairatan is the terminus of one of three rail lines in Afghanistan - a 10 km link to Termez. On January 22, 2010, the construction was started of a 75 km rail link from Hairatan to a terminal at Gur-e Mar near the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the major Afghan commercial centers. The project, part of the transport strategy and action plan of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program, is contractually scheduled for completion by June 2011.
On May 25, 2010, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Afghan Minister of Finance, Minister of Mines, Minister of Transportation and Civil Aviation, and fellow Ambassadors from Japan, Finland, and Uzbekistan attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurating the Hairatan Rail Line. The United States and Japan are the two largest shareholders in ADB. The grant of the ADB covers 97% of the total project cost of $170 million, with the Afghan Government contributing $5 million. This rail link is the first phase of a larger rail network planned for the country, including further links to Herat in the west and to Shir Khan Bandar in the northeast. At Herat the line will connect to Iran and at Shirkhan Bandar with Tajikistan. These future lines will create a rail corridor through north Afghanistan and enable freight coming from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to reach Persian Gulf ports on rail, avoiding the need to pass through Turkmenistan.