Int’l, regional trade links count

November 2, 2018

No country can keep its foreign and security policy fixed to the changing conditions in the regional or world politics. It always remains subject to evaluation and readjustment taking into account the political and strategic shifts occurring at regional or world stage. Asia is going through a discernible change prompting a tactical repositioning of states. Pakistan, sitting on the convergence of three regions, South Asia, Central Asia and South West Asia is destined to enjoy a significant place in these alliances. Regrettably, due to ill at ease relations with India and Afghanistan, Pakistan has not been able to make the most of its geo-strategic location to boost political and economic ties with the Central Asian States. On the other hand, Turkish economic links with the Central Asian states have been on the climb ever since their independence from the former Soviet Union. Currently, Turkey has an excellent presence in these countries. Turkish bilateral trade with Iran has since been growing. Turkey is the main buyer of Iranian gas. Turkey exports over two dozens of various items to Iran. A decade ago, bilateral trade between the two countries was at peak. We have not yet given a face-lift to our rail link with Iran from Quetta to Taftan to connect with the Iranian railway network onwards to Central Asia. Likewise, we have also been incapable of extending our rail and road links from Peshawar to Jalalabad to Uzbekistan. The controversy over giving India access to Afghanistan through Torkham border has left unfavorable impact on our relations with Kabul. Since the last decade or so, we have no access to Central Asia through Afghanistan. The Afghan regime, as a result, has stopped the transit of our overland trade with the Central Asian countries. This is regrettable for both the countries. The bilateral trade between the two countries has reduced from $2.50 billion to $1.50 billion. The Afghan transit trade has also been affected by bad relations between the two countries. Iran has also rehabilitated its road and railway links with the Central Asian States. It has also been increasing its economic links with the Central Asian States. Iran has so far been the key country providing seaport facilities to these landlocked countries through Bandar Abbas Seaport, though situated at a greater distance. The nearest seaport to these States is Gwadar. Keeping in view the distance of Bandar Abbas, Iran has embarked on the development of Chabahar Seaport, only 70 kilometers from Gwadar to take a share from the foreign trade of the Central Asian Republics along with Gwadar in the future.

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