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Dawn

Published Date: Sep 5, 2013

Conference urges govt. to exploit regional resources

A two-day conference on connecting economies and resources of Central
Asia and South Asia ended here on Wednesday with policy recommendations
for helping energy-starved Pakistan to exploit untapped resources in
the region.

The conference, attended by representatives of governments,
parliaments and private sector from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, the US and European countries, made seven
recommendations for Pakistan.

The two-day event in Islamabad was part of the recently-launched
consultation called the "Abu Dhabi Process", supported by the United
Arab Emirates and Germany to promote regional dialogue on post-2014
economic transition in Afghanistan.

In April 2013, the first consultation on regional infrastructure was
held in Turkey. The process has been launched to highlight Afghanistan’s
role as transit and trade hub for South Asia.

The Islamabad meeting came up with recommendations about realising
the dream of regional energy corridor such as integrated power grid
built in various blocks and a joint feasibility for India-Pakistan grid
connectivity.

The conference proposed a joint power development company and quick
impact pilot projects to boost trust among the regional stakeholders.

It recommended an association of regional private power investors and
a regional joint trust fund to support energy projects and engage
Pakistan and India in human resource development of Afghanistan and the
region.

The meeting titled "Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking Energy Suppliers
to Consumers in Asia" was organised by the Brussels-based East-West
Institute in collaboration with the government of Pakistan and the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Speaking on the occasion, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign
Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said Afghanistan was a vital
connector for regional energy, communication and transmission corridors.

About his government’s efforts to link the corridors, Mr Aziz said
recent agreements on Peshawar-Kabul road and Chaman-Kandahar railway
line would improve trade relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and
help connect Central Asia with South Asia.

He said the signing of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade
Agreement was a step in the right direction which would be implemented
in letter and spirit.

"Peace in Afghanistan means peace in the region," he said.

Pakistan will continue to support the process of reconstruction in
Afghanistan, particularly after 2014 when international development
support is likely to be reduced.

He said Pakistan was helping Afghanistan in designing and developing
the Kunar dam which would have a capacity to generate 1500MW of
electricity. Besides, the capacity of the CASA — a power generation
project launched in Afghanistan with the assistance of Pakistan — has
been increased from 1000MW to 1300MW.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
proposed cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan in a number of
areas.

Pakistan could assist Afghanistan in capacity-building through its
universities, help in geological surveys, train engineers in hydropower
projects and cooperate in engineering consulting services in developing
micro and macro dams, he said.

He said Afghanistan could be assisted in building infrastructure,
laying transmission lines and establishing an efficient grid system.

The conference said Afghanistan was one of the hindrances in connecting Central Asian resources with South Asia.

Other avenues of cooperation discussed included "Indo-Pak
connectivity in Punjab" which would bring 500 MW transmission in a
synchronous mode.