Connectivity with CARs

NATIONAL Security Division in collaboration with Centre for Global and Strategic Studies organised a seminar on a topic that really needs to be explored – Pakistan: A Land of Opportunities for Central Asian Republics (CARs) in view of several developments taking place at strategic and economic fronts. It provided an opportunity to scholars and experts from the region to discuss ways and means how untapped areas of cooperation can be exploited for the mutual good.
There is no doubt that Pakistan offers immense opportunities to Central Asian States as it is ideally located at the cross-roads of different regions and development of Gwadar Port and world-class infrastructure could mean providing these land-locked states vast scope to progress and prosper through mutual collaboration. As pointed out by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, $46 billion are being invested for creation and improvement of infrastructure in Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and work would also be completed in a few years on two other corridors linking Pakistan with Central Asia. One corridor would go from Peshawar to Kabul and onwards to Tajikistan while the other would link Quetta with Turkmenistan through Herat in Afghanistan. Together with development of Gwadar, these would have the potential to multiply mutual cooperation and regional trade but all depends on the law and order situation in Afghanistan as all projects aimed at creating linkages with CARs pass through Afghanistan, be it TAPI, CASA-1000 or the two corridors. Similarly, we are talking about increasing trade and commerce but so far there is no direct flight connecting Pakistan with Central Asian countries despite the fact that the direct flights could reduce the travel time by about 75%. There is also need to streamline issuance of visa to ensure greater people-to-people contacts and increased interaction among businessmen. The Security Division deserves credit for organising the seminar where thought-provoking proposals were floated by different speakers to make the cooperation between Pakistan and CARs meaningful. However, what we need is the will, hard work and sincerity to sort out impediments and accelerate the pace of implementation of ideas into tangible projects and programmes.

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