ISLAMABAD: “Pakistan provides the best possible route for the Central Asian states to reach the warm waters of the Arabian Sea for their trade,” said Dr Adam Saud, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Bahria University. He was speaking at a roundtable on developing relations between Afghanistan and Central Asia organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS).
Dr Saud was of the view that the Central Asian Republics (CARs) could not use the Iranian route for their trade through the warm waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea because of the Western sanctions against Iran. He added, however, that Afghanistan will continue to remain a source of concern in terms of trade connectivity for CARs because of the likelihood of terrorist violence in Afghanistan and the country’s poor physical and institutional infrastructure.
Dr Saud maintained that although Afghanistan had witnessed a considerable decrease in terrorist violence since the arrival of the Taliban at the helm, concerns about Daesh and internal divisions among the Taliban remained a concern. Dr Saud added that formation of an inclusive government and safeguarding the human rights of all Afghans as per international standards, especially the rights of women remained a challenge for Afghanistan.
This, he argued, however, had not deterred the CARs from establishing trade and economic linkages with the country, which were all involved in trade relations with Afghanistan. Responding to a question about Chinese investment in Afghanistan and the extension of the BRI to the country, he stated that it was too early to assume the inclusion of Afghanistan in the BRI. He added that Afghanistan was not that important for China and that Chinese will be cautious in expanding their economic interests in the country despite the fact that Beijing had appointed an ambassador to Afghanistan last month.