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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Sep 5, 2013

Afghanistan holds key to unlock new econo-potential in region

As a
gateway to resource rich Central Asia, Afghanistan holds the key to unlock a
new potential in region by acting as a transit route for energy supplies from
Central Asia to energy markets in South Asia – a scenario with win-win
potentials for all stakeholders.

This was discussed at ‘Abu Dhabi Process’ meeting held here on 3-4 September
and attended by high level representatives of governments, parliaments and
private sector from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, USA
and Europe. The two-day meeting titled ”Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking Energy
Suppliers to Consumers in Asia” was organized by EastWest Institute in Brussels
in collaboration with the government of Pakistan and the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The "Abu Dhabi Process," supported by Governments of United Arab Emirates and Germany, promotes regional
dialogue on post-2014 economic transition in Afghanistan, and highlights Afghanistan’s role as transit and trade
hub, connecting economies and
resources of Central and South Asia. The first consultation was held in
Istanbul in April, 2013 on regional infrastructure.

Meeting came up with tangible recommendations to realise the dream of regional
energy corridor such as integrated power grid built in various blocks; joint
feasibility for India-Pakistan grid connectivity carried out by state transmission
companies NTDC and PGCI; Establishment of a joint power development company;
Implementation of quick impact and pilot projects to boost trust and confidence
as well as create economic dream among the regional stakholders.; Eastablish
Asscoiation of regional private power investors; Establishing of a Regional
States Joint Trust Fund to suport energy projects; and enagage Pakistan and
India in human resource development of Afghanistan in particular and the region
at large.

Speaking at the occasion, Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign
Affairs and National Security termed Afghanistan as a vital connector for
regional energy, communication and transmission corridor. Talking of his
government’s efforts link to these corridors, he referred to recent agreements
on Peshawar-Kabul Road and Chaman-Qandhar railway line, said that these links
would not only improve trade relations within two countries but would also help
connect Central Asia with the South Asia. He said that signing of
Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) is a step in right
direction and would be implemented in letter and spirit.

Sartaz Aziz was of the view that peace in Afghanistan means peace in the
region. He reassured Pakistan’s continued support in reconstruction of
Afghanistan, particularly post 2014, when international development support is
likely to be reduced. He informed that Pakistan is helping Afghanistan in
design and development of Kunar dam which has a capacity to generate 1500 MW of
electricity adding that CASA-1000 has now been converted into CASA- 1300 with
further addition of 300 MWs .

Earlier, in his inaugural remarks on the first day of the conference, Shahid
Khaqan Abbasi, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources urged
Pakistan, Afghanistan and neighboring countries to engage in intensive
partnerships to meet their growing energy
demands
and also to harness massive economic opportunities
provided by energy trade. He said that region is at the forefront of a
transition towards energy economy as the ‘energy security’ has become a key
priority for all the countries.

The Minister congratulated SDPI on its work on an Energy Vision of Pakistan for
the year 2035, and added that Pakistan will also be able to help Afghanistan in
developing a comprehensive energy strategy
for development.

Proposing areas of cooperation between Afghanistan-Pakistan, the minister
stated that Pakistan can assist Afghanistan in capacity building through
Pakistani universities, help in geological surveys, training to Afghan
engineers in hydropower projects and facilitation in engineering consulting
services in developing micro and macro dams.