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Editorial: Air corridor

Despite facing several and severe challenges, Afghanistan is on the track of rapid economic growth, though much of the resources are consumed by war against militancy and terrorism. The fast-track economic growth would produce results by 2020. The previous and current governments have launched multiple projects that would improve lives of the over 30 million people. There are different barriers to be removed but the Afghan government cannot do it by itself. Some of the problems are multidimensional and involvement of key players is need of the hour. Therefore, there has always been emphasized on regional cooperation and integration for greater good of the nations living in South and Central Asia.

Since regional support is very important. Some of these countries with whom Afghanistan is enjoying historical and cultural relations have come forward to aid Kabul. The allies know very well that improved economy would not only fight poverty and unemployment in Afghanistan but also help in restoring stability and peace. Many young people join ranks of the militants because of unemployment. Poverty also causes extremism. Besides the European Union and the United States, India has contributed a lot to bring new life into the Afghan economy.  Construction of the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, Hajigak iron ore mine project and investment in Iran’s Chabahar Port are prominent examples of India’s unwavering support.

Afghanistan has become a land bridge to Central Asia from a landlocked country after signing of the trilateral agreement on Chabahar Port. Taking another bold step New Delhi is working on establishing an air corridor to find markets for Afghan products. Afghan and Indian officials confirmed that the air link between Afghanistan and India would boost Afghan economy and provide relief to Afghan traders who were using Pakistani transit trade routes. Afghan businessmen were tired of high handedness of Pakistani officials. There is a large potential for trade between the two countries.

In addition to that the grants of over $400 million to Afghanistan by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would attract local and foreign investors.  The grants are aimed to help the country increase access to reliable sources of electricity.  Inadequate power supplies have not only hampered the economic growth but also created tensions in the country. The ADB grants are crucial for increase productivity, especially at a time when Indian and Afghan officials are working on establishing the air corridor. It is a golden opportunity. To take full advantage of it, the government should provide soft loans, trainings and other facilities to the local producers for increased output. Training and facilities in production, processing, packing and market would not only enable Afghan products to compete in international markets but also help the government to generate huge revenues.

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