The Kabul Times.
Editorial

Afghanistan’s key role in regional connectivity

Seeking to regain its historical position as the regional transit hub, Afghan government has put its weight behind regional connectivity and increased the trade volume between Afghanistan and regional countries in recent years through launching air corridors with India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and China as well as establishing many dry ports, land trade and transit routes, including the Lapis Lazuli.
Speaking at the Afghan-Pak Business Forum at the Governor’s House in Lahore on Friday, President Ghani said Afghanistan could play an effective role in improved connectivity between Central and South Asia.
President Ghani has asked Pakistan, especially its private sector, to take part in the infrastructure development of his country. Afghanistan could play an effective role in expanding the scope of the Gwadar port to Central Asian states, the president said.
It is self-evident that developing economy, strengthening trade and transit, and enhancing import and export with regional countries will not only make great contribution to poverty alleviation in Afghanistan, but also provide investments opportunities in the region.
Meanwhile, the country needs to address trade deficit and boost connectivity with its neighboring countries and beyond through air and land to give the economy momentum. In the current globalized world, transportation construction is an essential prerequisite for economic development.
Meanwhile in his address to businessmen in Lahore, President Ghani said it was not the time to threaten each other with closing the ports, but to work on joint economic projects and put away the hostilities.
The Afghan government has played key role in economic activities despite the ongoing instability hampering the economic development. Although terrorist networks and their backers seek to isolate Afghanistan and create obstacles before its economic growth through staging intensified attacks, mining its resources illegally, and smuggling its natural reserves, Afghanistan has made considerable strides in terms of trade.
Afghanistan is known as “the heart of Asia” for its unique geographical location, which is able to connect South Asia to Central Asia and East Asia to West Asia. Meanwhile Afghanistan has huge untapped deposits and mineral resources, which will enable the country to stand on its own feet economically. Hence, if Afghanistan struggles to manage its resources, capitalize on its geographical location and use its human capital appropriately, it will regain its former status as “Asian transit and trade roundabout”. 
It is also important for the regional countries to give up their rivalries on instability in Afghanistan and support joint mega projects’ implementation in Afghanistan and in the region. Such projects would not help Afghanistan and the region to develop their economies, but would also tackle corruption, poverty, crime, and would provide thousands of job opportunities.
Despite all the struggles made to connect Afghanistan to regional countries and boost its trade and economy, the country is still in its early stage and needs to move on at a faster pace.

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The Kabul Times.