Route to de­vel­op­ment

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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.

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