Future of Afghanistan: Regionalism is the way forward

Experts say regional connectivity, local solutions key for Af-Pak region.

Arsalan Altaf December 10, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Diplomats and international security experts said that future of South and Central Asian regions depends on peace and stability in Afghanistan.

They were speaking at a panel on “Role of Afghanistan in Regional Security” as part of the three-day “Pathways to Sustainable Development” conference, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday.

US Institute of Peace South Asia Programme Director Moeed Yusuf said that Afghanistan was going to be dependent on international aid for the foreseeable future. “The problem is that the international community is growing disinterested in Afghanistan and no new money is being pledged for the country.”

He said most war funding would be diverted to address the new threat presented by Islamic State. With fading international assistance, Yusuf said the only option for Afghanistan was to connect with its neighbours. “Regionalism works. The issue, however, is that Machiavellian politics dominate the minds of those who matter in this region.”

Before commenting on the subject, Afghan Ambassador Janan Mosazai said that Afghanistan should be referred to as a country and not an ‘issue’.

The ambassador said that his country had undergone a profound change over the past 30 years. “The Afghanistan of 2015 is different from the Afghanistan of 2001. The change was manifested in the recent presidential elections with turnout of over 60 per cent, and 38 per cent were women.”

He said the new government in Kabul was keen to increase trade with Pakistan and the rest of the world. “We are determined to revive Afghanistan’s role as a land bridge between south and central Asia.”

He said Pak-Afghan relations made more progress during President Ghani’s two-day visit to Islamabad than the last 30 years.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2014.

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