Afghanistan moving toward regional integration: President
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Afghanistan is rapidly moving towards regional integration, seeking better cooperation with Central, East and West Asia, President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday.
However, ambitious projects for transit and linkages with Pakistan remained at the level of conception and aspiration, he told a regional ministerial conference in Islamabad
“I hope this conference results in significant movement in this domain. We inherited deep recession bordering on depression, imposed an austerity programme and met all our agreements,” the president said.
He also spoke of packages that would ensure Afghanistan’s economy moved into a south-reliance system, harnessing the country’s location, natural wealth, waterand entrepreneurial energies of the people.
Ghani also mentioned political, security and economic transitionsthat were completed during his presidency. He also sought credit for efforts to turn the state culture into a citizen-centricwelfare arrangement.
Afghanistan had played a key role in boosting regional cooperation,the president claimed, citing a string of connectivity schemes. He made specific mention of the following transnational projects:
- Turkmen railways, transmission lines, highways, gas pipelines and oil pipelines reaching Afghanistan;
- TAPI pipeline to be inaugurated in Turkmenistan;
- Transmission line from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan;
- Gas pipeline accords, including CASA-1000;
- Chabahar port, in which India and Iran jointly invested;
- Five-Nation agreements on railway lines with China;
- Highway programme to link Herat to Iran, Turkmenistan;
- Special economic zones planned at Afghanistan’s nine airports;
- India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam
Ghani made a strong pitch for greater regional cooperation in economic growth that enabled governments to address deal more effectively with common challenges, such as poverty, the exclusion of women and youth.
Commenting on the political transition in Afghanistan, he said: “We took the unusual step of forming a government of national unity. We have learned from 300 years of discord that politics must become a win-win formula ... that is an important part of the new political culture.”
While renewing his commitment to just peace, the president asked all violent movements to convert themselves into political parties and participate in the political process legitimately. Violence had no place in a democratic society,he argued.
Ghani acknowledged Pakistan’sgenerosity in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades. But recent events in Pakistan had forced Afghanistan to host up to 500,000 Pakistanis on its soil, he said.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.