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Reopen crossing points: Afghan envoy asks Sharif

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Umer Zakhilwal emphasized on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to withdraw the political move of closure of crossing points and transit routes to enhance objectives of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) between the two neighboring countries.

Zakhilwal, representing his country at the ECO Summit in Islamabad, he urged the member countries to make regional connectivity and economic integration part of their domestic development agendas.

He said Kabul was committed to realize the goals and objectives of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

“We need to embark on embedding security objectives in our economic agenda rather than the other way around. We need to make good on delivering at least one major regional economic project so that people see the benefits for themselves,” Zakhilwal said.

He said this is way through which the people of the member states would be encouraged to get involved in pushing their governments for regional economic connectivity and regional peace as well.

He said there was need to collectively encourage international partners to invest in connectivity as part of their security and stability agenda for this region.

Zakhilwal said the Afghan government endorsed the ECO Vision 2025, its implementation plan as well as the ECO Vision, Fund and financing modalities.

“The realization of this vision which, if implemented, will have a direct impact on the well-being of our people, but it will require more than what is decided upon today.”

He, however, said the move would require a revision of national policies on bilateral and regional relations among member states.

“We cannot be for regional connectivity if at the same time we continue to create barriers to trade and transit and movement of people,” he argued.

He added there was no shortage of ideas and potential projects. Regional projects concerned to Afghanistan alone are a long list: TAPI, CASA, TUTAP, railways, highways and motorways are among the mentionable projects.

There was no lack of understanding of the benefits from connectivity either; not just its benefits for development and economics, but for peace and stability as well, he remarked.

Regional economic interdependence offered hope for durable peace and stability in the region, he said, regretting that progress in achieving shared regional objectives had been slow.

He pointed out that all crossing points and transit routes have been closed by Pakistan for about two weeks ago, causing enormous hardship to ordinary people and huge losses to traders on both sides, needed for immediate reopening.

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