Pakistan Foreign minister plans to visit Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan to discuss Afghan situation as they are key players in the process, as reported by various diplomatic sources. Pakistan has always played a facilitative role and will continue to do so, reiterated FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
With reference to diplomatic sources, Pakistani media reported that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will plan a three day visit to three Central Asian countries bordering with Afghanistan from August 25-27 to discuss the evolving Afghan situation.
The main purpose of the visit as reported by these sources, is to discuss the future course of action and development in Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister will make the visit to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to discuss the current state of bilateral relations.
Moreover, the issues related to the timely implementation of TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline will be discussed.
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, key players in Afghan situation
Afghanistan, since the US occupation is engaged in purchasing electricity from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran through the transmission lines. In this way, these countries are key players in rebuilding the war-ravaged and chaotic Afghanistan.
When the peace process in Afghanistan started in 2020, voices were heard that these countries can play a pivotal role in fomenting the intra-Afghan dialogue. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in an online event hosted by the US Institute of Peace had said ,”We believe that [Central Asian] countries have an important role to play in encouraging the Afghan sides—the government, and the Taliban—to overcome the challenges that remain”
Since the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Central Asian countries, all former republics of the Soviet Union, have been closely involved with the emerging developments in Afghanistan.
Over the last two decades, Central Asia provided access for NATO troops and supplies to Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network. Also, they provide foreign assistance support, technical know-how, and opportunities to obtain education to young Afghans in addition to affordable energy resources and market access to Russia, Europe, and beyond.
Central Asia and Afghanistan; bridge to regional connectivity
The historic ties between Central Asia and Afghanistan are strong. Afghanistan once served as an important segment of the Silk Road, connecting different parts of the Asian continent and the shared history and cultural heritage are a testament to the connection between Afghanistan and the region.
Central Asian involvement in the Afghanistan is not attributed to neighbourly comity. Central Asia and South Asia are among the least integrated regions in the world and a peaceful Afghanistan would serve as a bridge between Central and South Asia, and ultimately the rest of the world.
Afghanistan is already a top 10 trading partner of Uzbekistan, noted Uzbek’s Ambassador to the United States, Vakhabov. Uzbekistan is also expanding its supply of electricity to Afghanistan with projects that will not only increase production capacity, but create new jobs for Afghans, he said.
Also, electricity, technology, agriculture, and loosening borders as low-hanging fruit that could help spur greater regional integration.
FM Shah Mehmood Quershi to discuss Afghan situation with key neighbours
This week, a group of non-Pashtun former Northern Alliance Afghan politicians met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad to discuss the possibilities of engaging with the Taliban to form a new “inclusive” government.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Quershi, while addressing the press conference on Sunday highlighted that Pakistan is on the same page as the international community regarding political settlement in Afghanistan.
He said that he will soon discuss the Afghan issue with the leadership of neighbouring countries, including Iran, Uzbekistan, China, and Turkmenistan, adding that India, too, should work to resolve the Afghan issue. Also, it is necessary to build momentum of TAPI pipeline which can bridge the regions and forge development and connectivity among neighbouring countries.
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“Pakistan has always played the role of a facilitator in Afghanistan and will continue to do so,” Qureshi said. “It is our neighbouring country, therefore, we want to establish good relations with it.” And a peaceful and regionally connected Afghanistan is imperative for peace in the region.
➖The protection, safety, security and rights of the Afghan people is paramount & an inclusive political settlement essential.
➖Important for the international community to remain engaged in support of the Afghan people and to sustain economic engagement. https://t.co/hTVPEakagr
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) August 18, 2021