Mahnoor Ansar

ISLAMABAD: The experts from Pakistan and Uzbekistan discussed in detail the upcoming international conference being held in Tashkent. In this regard, the CGSS arranged an interactive session.

During the meeting, the importance of the upcoming international conference on Central and South Asia regional connectivity: Challenges and opportunities was discussed.  The meeting was hosted by Akromjon Nematov, First Deputy Director of the ISRS under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Akromjon Nematov, First Deputy Director of the ISRS under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan elaborated the significance of the upcoming conference that is to be attended by Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoye, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and other important regional leaders. He explained that the idea of Central-South Asian connectivity encompasses broader paradigms, i.e., trade and transport connectivity for sustainable growth, revival of cultural and humanitarian ties as a way to strengthen friendship and mutual confidence, analyzing regional security challenges, ensuring the security of cross-border infrastructure and devising strong policies to tackle common global threats.

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan, Regional Geopolitical Analyst & Member Board of Experts, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) appreciated the effort of ISRS for organizing the meeting. He stated that socio-economic integration, academic collaboration and broader prospects of regional integration hold immense importance in today’s changing dynamics of the world. He elaborated the role of CGSS as a major stakeholder in bridging the gap between Central and South Asia via policy-making, researches, building trust and facilitating joint academic projects. Dr. Hassan also highlighted the significant contours of regional integration via resolving the decades-long Afghan conflict. He welcomed and appreciated Uzbekistan’s efforts in order to promote regional integration, especially, with Pakistan. Dr. Mehmood stated that there are transregional cooperative programs such as BRI, CPEC, CAREC, ECO, and Pakistan is ready to complete them. He stated that CGSS looks forward to adding constructively into regional connectivity and facilitating more webinars, seminars and conferences in this domain.

Prof. Dr. Shabir Ahmed, Director Area Study Centre (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar and Member Board of Experts, Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS)stated that 21ST century is the century of Eurasian integration. He highlighted the importance of regional connectivity and cooperation of Central Asia with South Asia. He said that BRI, CPEC and other integration programs are there to enhance regional cooperation. However, regional states need to help themselves. He elaborated that there is a need to enhance regional connectivity in all spheres including political, economic and security. Dr. Shabir also highlighted the importance of the rail routes and the existing economic integration projects like ECO, BRI, CAREC etc. He stated that development of cross-border connectivity and physical infrastructure is a dire need of time. He proposed that addition of Central Asian Republics into CPEC would be beneficial. There are huge prospects for the investment. He concluded that the cooperation must dominate the competition in the region. The cultural and people-to-people contacts must be increased.

 Khalid Taimur Akram, Executive Director, Center for Global & Strategic Studies, (CGSS) appreciated and welcomed the initiative of regional connectivity by Shavkat Mirziyoye. He suggested certain meaningful options to be discussed in the upcoming online conference on Central and South Asia regional connectivity: Challenges and opportunities. First, there should be a banking system in the regional states that have smooth and easy transaction policies for Pakistan. Second, the academic collaboration should be enhanced and an integrated system to recognize the degrees should be formulated and discussed. Third, there should be easy custom-trade regimes and free trade agreements that should be signed between Central Asian Republics and Pakistan. Fourth, there must be an easy visa regime to enhance tourism and people-to-people connectivity. Fifth, Central Asia and South Asia must devise such policies to formulate a joint narcotics plan as Afghanistan is facing a dreadful situation due to the Narco-trafficking. Six, there should be a coherent regional plan to counter the transnational cybercrimes. Seventh, people should know the origin and legacy of Central Asia as it was initiated from Amir Taimoor. There is a dire need to understand the actual roots and legacy. While concluding, Mr. Taimur highlighted the importance of the initiative of the president of Uzbekistan as a new regional policy for open borders, regional cooperation and sustainable development.

Akromjon Nematov, First Deputy Director of the ISRS under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan while giving the concluding remarks, appreciated the suggestions given by Dr. Shabir Ahmed, Khalid Taimur, and Dr. Mehmood to be discussed in the upcoming international conference to promote regional connectivity. He expressed his gratitude to CGSS for the value of time and input.