Route to development
Pakistan is actively pursuing the gigantic China Pakistan Economic Corridor to establish itself as a major economic hub connecting east, central and south Asian regions.
It is also keenly interested in the laying of the trans- regional pipeline running from the resourcerich Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan and then ultimately to India as part of its efforts to meet its growing energy needs.
Islamabad is also holding high hopes for the early lifting of sanctions on its neighbour Iran to allow it to complete the laying of the gas pipeline that could ultimately be extended to India for the same purpose.
To overcome its power shortages, it is also pressing for the transregional power transmission project dubbed as CASA-1000 under which the excess electricity would be transmitted from Tajikistan to energydeficient Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This project will be inaugurated soon and the Tajik President Emomali Rahman in his recent visit to Pakistan invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend the ceremony in Tashkent.
But the success of all these projects hinge on the restoration of peace and stability in the region which so far has been elusive.
Some of these projects have been on the papers for over a decade, but could not be executed because of the bad security situation.
The major stumbling block in the regional development and interconnectivity is the regional conflicts and mistrust.
Unless serious efforts are made to ease tensions before ultimately resolving these conflicts the benefits of the regional interconnectivity could not be fully reaped, and it has been underscored once again at the recently held meeting of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Islamabad.
Though a number of issues were discussed in the two-day 10th JEC session, which was the first since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan in 2014, it ended without any breakthrough.
During the meeting, Kabul expressed its disappointment over the slow pace of implementation of the 48-point agenda agreed during Ghani’s visit, while Pakistan reiterated the security issues that are hampering the progress.
One of the sticking points in Pakistan-Afghanistan commercial ties is Islamabad’s refusal to let Afghan cargo trucks cross into India and then carry Indian goods to their country on their way back.