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Regional integration; Hostilities, inconclusive foreign policy trouble Afghanistan

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By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan (ASA) said that regional hostilities and inconclusive policies of the government had prevented the country from playing effective role in the regional organizations.

The academy on Wednesday said that poor diplomacy and political rivalries in the region resulted that the Regional Economic Cooperation Organizations (RECO) could not play fundamental role in expansion of regional cooperation for Afghanistan.

The ASA launched a scientific and investigative seminar on Afghanistan’s position in RECO in collaboration with university lecturers, researchers and economists aimed to provide suggestions to the government to have significant position in the regional organizations.

Deputy Chief of the ASA, Mohammad Aslam Afzali, said that while Afghanistan has membership of several regional organizations, in the last 14 years the country has not exploited from its important geopolitical position in the RECO due to disappointing foreign policy.

He said that political hostilities between members of the RECO resulted that Afghanistan could not benefit from its vital strategic position in the region for improvement of trade relations.

“Unfortunately, members of the RECO have political differences. They made Afghanistan a political playground for their competition. The regional rivalries affected Afghanistan,” he opined.

He said that mega infrastructure projects such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, KASA-1000, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan railway and Lapis Lazuli transit trade route are the main options for expansion of regional economical cooperation if the government has paid heed.

Afzali furthered that if Afghanistan adopts productive policies then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) could play fundamental role in implementation of the mentioned projects.

Chief of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Qurban Haqjoo, said that Afghanistan’s role in the regional organizations has been symbolic and could not benefit from RECO’s potential for extension of trade ties with regional countries.

He said that political differences between members of the RECO as well as their opposition to the presence of the US forces in Afghanistan have prevented the regional economic cooperation organizations from playing substantial role in strengthening trade relations.

He termed poor diplomacy of the Afghan government and more focus over international financial cooperation another challenge.

Deputy Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs, Abdul Ghafor Liwal, said that Pakistan is member of the three regional organizations and always pursued its economic policy through militancy in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is member of the ECO, SAARC, the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program and likely to get membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the near future.