Cooperation between Afghanistan, regional states stressed
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Ambassadors of Central Asian countries on Thursday stressed increased cooperation between Afghanistan and their countries, but said they were concerned about growing instability in the war-torn country.
They were speaking at a two-day conference on negotiations between Afghanistan and Central Asian States kicked off in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.
Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan ambassadors and the head of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), Mohammad Daud Muradian, attended the first day talks.
Muradian said the conference had been jointly organised by his institute and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
He said the aim of the conference was to cement multilateral cooperation between Afghanistan and central Asian countries.
He said Afghanistan once served as a key bridge between central and south Asian countries and the country’s that role should be revived again.
After official speeches, a number of central Asian envoys and some political and social experts discussed important issues facing Afghanistan and regional countries during the round table deliberations.
Kazakh Ambassador to Kabul Omirtai Bitimov, Kyrgyz Ambassador Abdurazakov, Center of Afghanistan and Regional Studies head in Tajikistan Dr. Qasim Shah Iskandari and America’s Indiana University lecturer Prof. Nazif Shahrani participated in the round table talks.
Abdurazakov said his government was hopeful about implementation of development projects connecting central and southern Asian regions in which Afghanistan could play the role of a bridge.
He said peace and stability in Afghanistan was prerequisite for regional cooperation. Abdurazakov said regional cooperation would remain a hope until Afghanistan suffered from insecurity.
Dr. Qasim Shah Iskandari said Afghanistan was victim of terrorism and foreign interferences. He said regional cooperation should be established for resolving problems in Afghanistan.
He said Tajikistan believed terrorism posing threat to Afghanistan was also threatening the entire central Asian region. He added central Asian countries had numerous problems that needed coordination among regional policies.
Iskandari stressed regional countries should bolster their political, trade and cultural ties and establish a joint cooperation mechanism for solving current problems.
Kazakh ambassador to Kabul Omirtai Bitimov said Afghanistan was a hideout for international terrorism and his country was concerned about the ongoing situation here.
But he added army operations alone were not a solution to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, but people needed education and intellectual development.
Bitimov said his country continued to support Afghanistan in promoting education as more than 700 Afghan students had received higher education in Kazakhstan.
He also mentioned problems concerning security, politics, transit and customs in Afghanistan and said these problems should be solved through regional cooperation.
Central Asia and Afghanistan have no other option, but to struggle for establishing high-level regional cooperation to address the current challenges, he added.
However, Indiana University lecturer Prof. Nazif Shahrani said the problems mentioned were not real for Afghanistan and central Asian countries.
He said Afghanistan and central Asian countries had strong cooperation before the former Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. That cooperation was destroyed as a result of changes government systems, he added. Shahrani said Afghanistan and the region should try to establish a workable system.
Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor at the beginning of the conference said the Balkh route was still capable to play its role in connecting central Asian states.
He said proper political, business and cultural facilities were available for improving relations between central Asian nations.
Top diplomats from the Central Asian States, Pakistan and Turkey are participating in the event, aimed at cementing regional cooperation.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.