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Govt should benefit from regional economic deals: Think tank

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By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Rana Think Thank urged the Afghan government to get maximum benefit from the regional agreements aimed at speeding the development process.

Speaking at the monthly gathering of Rana Think Tank, Abdul Satar Purdili said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project could be an opportunity for Afghanistan and a challenge as well.

Purdili, who is a senior political analyst and ex-member of the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan (ASA), termed the project a potential bone of contention between China and the US.

He said that China would face threats from the western rivals and Afghanistan could also be affected by the tug-of-war between Beijing and Washington.

The analyst said that China recently signed the CPEC agreement at cost of $27.7 billion. The corridor will link Gwadar to Kashgar, passing through Multan, Hassan Abdal, Lahore and Hyderabad cities of Pakistan.

In addition to export of goods to Central Asia, China would have commercial ventures with Baluchistan, Iran and Afghanistan, he added.

Giving an example, he said that China would transfer worth $3 billion minerals from Afghanistan, 157.8 billion barrels of oil from Iran and similarly will import minerals from Baluchistan, Kazakhstan and other countries. In order to protect the project China transferred different voice recording technologies in the related areas. “These all won’t be tolerated by United States of America (USA),” he opined.

Pointing to the India agreement regarding Iran’s Chabahar Port, he said that these both projects (CPEC and Chabahar) would have problems for Afghanistan.

He elaborated that the Chabahar transit route would pass through Iran’s Zahedan and Delaram-Zaranj area of Afghanistan. “Together, Pakistan and China will try to hamper the project while creating challenges.”

He said that when India was building the Delaram-Zaranj highway, the engineers came under attack many times by Pakistan and landmines were also planted to prevent the team from working.

China and Pakistan are creating challenges in front of the Chabahar project in order to make the CPEC an effective transit trade route, he claimed.

Purdili suggested that the Afghan government should explore benefits in the two projects.

Danish Bakhtyari, another analyst, said that currently economic competition is going on in the region, where unfortunate, Afghanistan’s geographical importance has become a point of economic tension.

He said: “We must seek ways to put an end to discriminations in the country and take advantages from the economic deals in the region. Afghanistan needs a central and national reinforcement and active management to protect national interest and get enough advantages from the regional economic agreements.”

He said that Afghanistan would be greatly affected if the government failed to benefit from the opportunities provided by the regional commercial deals and transit trade agreements.

He said that cohesive strategy is imperative to get enough benefit from the economic ventures in the region and cope with the negative outcomes.

Chancellor of the Education University, Hamidullah Ameen, said that in order to protect Afghanistan’s interest in the regional deals, the government shall strengthen and keep the national unity intact.