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Afghanistan Times

Published Date: Sep 5, 2013

Islamabad, Kabul to work on energy projects

Pakistan has renewed its commitment to continue working with Afghanistan
in pursuit of connectivity and energy projects, linking the country
with Central Asia.
Advisor to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs
Sartaj Aziz told a seminar on ‘Afghanistan Reconnected: Linking Energy
Supplier to Consumers in Asia’ in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“As a neighbouring and brotherly country, Afghanistan is close to us.
Strong bonds of a common history, religion and culture reinforce our
relations,” he said, adding discussions were in progress on extending
the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) to Tajikistan.
He promised Pakistan, which has been hosting one of the largest refugee
populations over three decades despite falling international support,
would continue to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in
Afghanistan.
“About three million Afghan refugees still live in Pakistan, out of
which about 1.6 million are registered. Just last month, we signed the
Tripartite Agreement with Afghanistan and UNHCR extending the stay of
refugees till December 2015.
Preparations would be made for the return of the refugees to their
homeland, he hoped, believing their early, and voluntary return, as well
as sustainable reintegration, was possible if conducive conditions were
created in Afghanistan.
Last week’s visit to Pakistan by President Karzai was helpful in
building trust, enhancing mutual understanding, reaffirming the
commitment to working together to promote peace and determining ways to
strengthen bilateral relations, he said.
Finance ministers from the two countries agreed to work together on a
number of energy and connectivity projects, reaffirming their commitment
to further strengthening trade ties under APTTA.
“Our region is blessed with immense potentials in terms of natural
resources which, if tapped efficiently, can yield benefits to the entire
region. Afghanistan occupies an important position in the region,
straddling Central, West and South Asia,” he remarked.
Notwithstanding its limited resources, Pakistan has been extending
support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development through
contributions to education, health and infrastructure projects worth $
330 million.
Aziz said Afghanistan was ideally located to connect energy suppliers
and users in its neighbourhood and beyond. For instance, Turkmenistan,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India gas pipeline (TAPI) and Central Asia South
Asia (CASA-1000) are two such examples of projects which make
Afghanistan a ‘connector’.
Next year’s political transition, through successful conclusion of
presidential and provincial council elections, would be an important
factor in stabilising Afghanistan, which would require financial
support, including investment in its infrastructure and institutional
development, he remarked. (PAN)