Central Asia success key to Pak, Afghan stability: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Success of the Central Asian nations and their economic integration with South Asia is important for the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a senior US official has told lawmakers.
“Central Asia`s success has profound implications for the broader area, including Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Jonathan Stivers, the Assistant Administrator, Asia United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
“Yet the disparate countries of Central Asia face ever-more complex challenges in charting their own course,” he said in his testimony before the committee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
The region`s stability and prosperity are continually compromised by crippling development challenges, the influence of neighbors especially Russia, and broader regional threats such as the violent extremism that exerts an increasing pull over a growing number of young, jobless labor migrants, he said.
Stivers said at the center of regional connectivity efforts is the US Government`s New Silk Road initiative to revive trade and people- to-people connections that used to bind Central to South Asia through Afghanistan and bolster economies across the Asian continent.
“Through efforts to connect markets in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India and beyond, the initiative encourages common interests and economic activity as stabilizing factors for peace in the region,” he said. “A key component is the promotion of a regional energy market that connects Central Asia’s abundant energy resources with energy-deficient South Asia,” Stivers said.
In support of a Central Asia-South Asia regional electricity grid (CASA-1000), USAID provides technical assistance on the negotiation and implementation of operating agreements, he told the lawmakers.
“In April 2015, the project took a major step forward with the signing by all four countries of a master agreement in Istanbul, paving the way for construction to begin. This and other milestones achieved build on years of USAID assistance helping countries develop and implement modern energy sector management, regulation and governance structures that today make sustainable energy trade between Central and South Asia possible,” he said.
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