International Conference on “Cooperation between Central and South Asia in the process of a peaceful settlement in the IRA”
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A virtual conference was held on “Cooperation between Central and South Asia in the process of a peaceful settlement in the IRA”, reports “Dunyo” IA correspondent.
The event, organized by the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan together with Pakistan’s Eurasian Century Institute, was attended by the heads and leading experts of think tanks and research structures of the two countries.
The main themes of discussion were the role and efforts of Central and South Asian countries in the process of peaceful settlement and economic recovery of the IRA, as well as prospects for transregional cooperation.
Addressing the event, First Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Akramjon Nematov, noted that achieving long-term peace in Afghanistan is of strategic importance for the security and sustainable development of Central and South Asia, implementing the enormous potential of transregional cooperation.
In this regard, the countries of Central and South Asia, which are directly experiencing the negative consequences of the long-term conflict in Afghanistan, need to continue providing consolidated support to the Afghan people in their strive for peace and prosperity.
At the same time, according to A. Nematov, further strengthening the comprehensive and long-term Uzbekistan – Pakistan partnership can play an important role in the process of achieving sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Peace in Afghanistan will create favorable conditions for further sustainable development of the entire Eurasian space, will give a powerful positive impetus to the expansion and deepening of cooperation between Central and South Asia.
According to the expert, the high dynamics of mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and Pakistan achieved in recent years testifies to the great potential of interregional interconnection. So, since 2016, mutual trade between the countries has grown 5 times, the number of tourists from Pakistan to Uzbekistan has increased 12 times, in just 2 years the number of enterprises in Uzbekistan with Pakistani capital has almost doubled – from 68 to 109 units, and transit of Pakistani cargo by all modes of transport through the territory of Uzbekistan 5 times.
A. Nematov emphasized that it is important to focus joint efforts on the implementation of infrastructure, socio-economic and transport-logistics projects in Afghanistan, which will contribute to long-term stability and sustainable development of this country, create interregional ties between Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
Among the key projects that could make a significant contribution to the restoration of the peaceful economy of Afghanistan are construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar railway, the Surkhan – Puli-Khumri power line, as well as the creation of joint ventures in Termez and Baysun-Pharm free economic zones, the products of which can be supplied to Afghanistan and other countries of the near and far abroad.
Supporting the significant efforts of Uzbekistan to resolve the situation in Afghanistan, Founding President of Eurasian Century Institute Irfan Shahzad Takalvi emphasized that Pakistan highly appreciates the foreign policy initiatives of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to achieve long-term peace in Afghanistan.
In particular, according to the Pakistani expert, the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan initiated by the President of Uzbekistan and the declaration adopted following the event opened a new milestone in the efforts of the international community to resolve the Afghan crisis, as well as paved the way for achieving current practical results in organizing inter-Afghan peace talks.
According to Irfan Shahzad Takalvi, Pakistan and Uzbekistan are two countries that are making great efforts to completely end the war in Afghanistan and establish peace and stability. Peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan will pave the way for broad, comprehensive, multifaceted transregional cooperation, will act as a continental bridge between South and Central Asia. As soon as the peace returns to Afghanistan, Irfan Takalvi stressed, the entire region will reap the benefits of expanding trade ties, people-to-people contacts and capital inflows. As a result, the region will become a growth engine for bоth Asia and Eurasia.
The head of department of the Information Analytical Center for International Relations M. Khusnitdinova drew the attention of the conference participants to the fact that the Uzbek side, despite the difficult epidemiological situation, stands for joint efforts of the countries of the region and Eurasia to maintain and develop regional trade and transport-logistics ties.
The border of Uzbekistan with Afghanistan this year remained open for all transport freight traffic. Thanks to this, the positive dynamics of mutual trade was preserved, as well as the range of essential goods supplied to Afghanistan was expanded. Thus, in the first half of 2020, the trade turnover with Afghanistan increased by 24%, amounting to $332.9 million.
Rail transportation increased by 50.7%, reaching 2.20 million tons. This has become an important factor in maintaining the normal life of this neighboring country. The successful restoration of transit for Afghanistan by the Pakistani side allows to count on the fact that Uzbekistan and Pakistan will be able to intensify the development of trade and transit of goods through Afghan territory.
This, as the expert noted, will contribute to building up bilateral cooperation, more effective involvement of Afghanistan in regional trade-economic ties, enhancing broad economic interaction between Central and South Asian countries.
The experts agreed that the consolidation of the efforts of the international community and regional countries is a key factor in advancing the peace process in Afghanistan. At the same time, the comprehensive strengthening of the multifaceted Uzbekistan – Pakistan partnership can play an important role in the Afghan settlement. In this context, the conference participants also emphasized the importance of uniting joint efforts in the implementation of projects that will contribute to long-term stability, sustainable development and prosperity of Afghanistan, turning this country into a bridge between South and Central Asia.
TASHKENT, August 23. /“Dunyo” IA/