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2020-08-16 › CASA dreams

This refers to the news story, 'US, five other nations want to link Central Asia and South Asia (CASA)', July 13. It was reported that the US would like Islamabad to back the American efforts to connect South Asia with Central Asia. Therefore, to promote its plans for the two regions, Washington has created a group called C5+1, which includes the US and the five Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Back in May 2020, at the inaugural trilateral forum comprising the US, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, projects were reviewed which could bring prosperity to the entire region by linking South Asia and Central Asia.

A joint statement released after their meeting, underscored the need to build railway links between Central Asia and Pakistan and a gas pipeline that goes all the way to India via Pakistan. I am very optimistic that as soon as a negotiated settlement is arrived upon our bilateral disputes between Pakistan and India, and peace and tranquility is restored in the key CASA connecting state of Afghanistan, the transportation of goods, services, entrepreneurship skills, and intellectual power would be able to operate (in a regulated environment) from the northern most point of Kazakhstan to the southernmost point of Malaysia, just like it happens in Europe. This would, perhaps, not occur straight away but, most probably, within the next 20-25 years if the member-states are able to gradually establish the multi-billion dollar commercial transportation, railways, pipelines and communication linkages, based on international standards. In the distant future, one could envision that a tourist bus or a goods container truck could embark on a remarkable land-cum-rail journey from Moscow to Kuala Lumpur.

Abbas R Siddiqi

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