Connectivity with CARs

58

PAKISTAN and Central Asian Republics (CARs) have always shown their strong desire to bolster their ties in different fields.

In recent years, one has also seen an enhanced level of engagement between the two sides at different levels to tap the full potential of their cooperation.

The very visit of Tajikistan’s President Emamoli Rahmon to Islamabad can also be seen in the same context.

Talking to the visiting dignitary, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday that Pakistan wanted the establishment of energy, rail and road connectivity with the diverse energy resources-rich CARs for the development and prosperity of the entire region.

He said Pakistan desired early completion of the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) power project to meet its energy needs.

This is one of the two projects which have faced long delays and serious effort needs to be made to materialize this as well as TAPI gas pipeline project which, in fact, will provide cheap gas to Pakistan as compared to the existing reliance of expensive LNG.

Apart from this the completion of Trans-Afghan Railway Line will also create the shortest and cheapest corridor connecting Pakistan with the CARs.

This will provide access to the Central Asian countries to Pakistani ports including Gwadar port and serve as a lifeline for an integrated Eurasia.

We believe this enhanced connectivity will open a sustainable channel towards economic growth and development for the entire region by opening opportunities as well as making it a meeting point of eastern and western civilizations.

It is a matter of satisfaction that there is growing realization on the part of the leadership of both CARs and Pakistan about the scope of their cooperation but time has come to shift these important energy and connectivity projects from papers to the ground.

Trans Afghan Railway line can be completed with the cooperation of China as well as arranging finances from the international lenders including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan is also of immense importance to turn this dream of regional connectivity into reality.

Whilst regional countries need to continue to play their role in this regard, it is also for the Afghan side not to allow terrorist groups such as TTP operate from its soil.