Work on connectivity projects in full swing: Pakistan
Addressing the 6th edition of the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul, Pakistan’s national security advisor said his country was working on a number of cross-border and trans-regional connectivity projects.
Sartaj Aziz cited several projects, including some within the RECCA framework, and others on at a bilateral level. Transforming Afghanistan into an Asian roundabout would require internal initiatives and substantive cooperation of regional countries, he said.
“We have expedited work on rail connectivity projects, including Peshawar-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spin Boldak rail links,” he announced, saying that a feasibility study for the Peshawar-Kabul motorway was also underway.
Similarly, he believed, ongoing work on the Torkham-Jalalabad additional carriageway would be completed by December 2016. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to extend these road networks to Central Asia.
“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can also play a transformative role, not only for Pakistan but for the region as a whole. Once implemented, the CPEC would provide a competitive transit route for trade between western China, Central Asia and Afghanistan.”
Significant breakthroughs on CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline projects have put the projects on a fast track, the advisor said, hinting at collaboration with Afghanistan in hydropower generation on Kunar River.
The neighbours had pledged to remove impediments to the full implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APPTA), the diplomat told the gathering.
He recalled the 5th meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APPTCA) in Islamabad on January 1-2, when a number of issues relating to implementation of the deal were addressed.
Business-friendly visa regimes, regulations, legislation and agreements in areas of trade and transit facilitating the flow of goods and services, greater public-private partnership and enhanced people-to-people contacts are in the pipeline.
Aziz promised Pakistan’s assistance in training Afghan civil servants including diplomats and police officers. “We would also impart training to (Afghan) doctors, paramedical staff, teachers, postal, banking, railways, customs and civil aviation officials.”
“I have carefully listened to my colleagues and found considerable convergence on how to move forward in a pragmatic and concrete manner to create synergies needed for benefitting from greater regional cooperation and integration,” he concluded.
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