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Tuesday, July 2, 2024

US pledges funds to improve Pakistani connectivity with Central Asia

The USA is expected to create a fund for increasing investments in the Central and South Asian region to promote stability and trade

The special envoy for the USA, Zalmay Khalilzad, said yesterday that the USA would soon announce a high-level meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to encourage trade, connectivity, and regional stability.

The United States will develop a fund to encourage investments in the Central and South Asian region, and thus be present in the meeting.

The United States, under President Trump, has drawn a significant number of troops from Afghanistan. Ambassador Khalilzad has been part of Trump’s administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan’s peace process and talks.

“We look forward to soon announcing a regional investment fund and a high-level meeting of representatives from the United States, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to discuss connectivity, trade, and development initiatives,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote in a tweet posted on his official Twitter account.

Read more: Afghanistan: Calls grow to probe foreign troops’ crimes

The deal, which calls for a total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 2021, was signed in February. The US deal with the Taliban calls for total troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 2021 and was signed back in February.

However, the Pentagon has been strongly opposed to this withdrawal and has recommended not withdrawing with ‘too many concessions’ to the Taliban, CNN had reported earlier this month.

The tweet followed Khalilzad’s meeting with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov in Washington on Thursday.

“We discussed the current status of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations and the importance of an immediate reduction in violence,” Ambassador Khalilzad wrote.

“We also discussed the region’s role in helping the Afghan peace process and recommitted to the importance of regional economic connectivity, trade, and development facilitated by peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

Pakistan and Afghanistan strengthen their ties

Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Afghanistan earlier this week. The formal name given to this document is ‘A shared vision.’ In this document thus far, Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed on intelligence sharing and joint intelligence operations. These measures are part of a larger tangible timeline, with strategic actions to curb ‘anti-peace’ elements from both countries. The document also cites an agreement on enhancing regional connectivity, trade, and communication.

The document seeks better cooperative partnerships between the two countries in political, economic, and social spheres. A timeline has been established to achieve tangible goals in bids to enhance cooperation. The document also includes an agreement reached in September this year between the two countries wherein willful collaboration was agreed upon for the furtherance of peace and stability in both their countries and the wider region.

By December this year, a ‘re-energizing’ of the joint intelligence services-led operations of analyzing, mapping, and cooperation against ‘enemies of peace’ is expected.

According to a statement by an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Pakistan Today, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed played a crucial part in the facilitation of the agreement between the two countries. DG ISI Hameed was present during the Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan.

Read more: With US pullout, Afghanistan faces messy free-for-all for influence

Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to key issues that were important to the respective countries.

Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed that they should ‘enjoy a special relationship’ based on predictability, transparency, mutual and full respect for one another’s sovereignty and expanding and furthering their mutual interests through state-to-state mechanisms.

The agreement also professed that Afghanistan’s multi-lateral relationships with various countries was a welcome opportunity and “presents a real opportunity for the two countries to exploit and conversely presents no threat.”

As mentioned above, the document’s key elements also included the agreement that neither country’s territory should be used for “malicious purposes” against the other’s territory and that both countries should work together to “identify and tackle enemies of peace.”

Trade was a big part of the new document with agreements to create better regional connectivity, free movement of people, goods and services, the opening of trade and customs posts, and transport and energy infrastructure development, aiming for regional development dividends greater than what each country might expect to achieve alone.

GVS News Desk