Central Asia’s Afghan Route to Prosperity
Two new mega-projects connecting Central and South Asia could transform Eurasian security, significantly increase regional economic activity, and potentially bring peace at last to Afghanistan. But most of the world has so far paid little attention to important recent developments.
BISHKEK – For the first time in centuries, there is an opportunity to connect Central and South Asia via modern transport and energy corridors through Afghanistan. Once completed, these projects would transform Eurasian security, significantly increase regional economic activity, and potentially bring peace at last to Afghanistan. They may even revive the Great Silk Road.
Progress on the planned schemes should therefore interest the region’s influential neighbors – Russia, China, and India – and the United States, which has spent at least $2 trillion in Afghanistan over the last 20 years. But most of the world regards Central Asia as terra incognita, and has so far paid little attention to significant recent developments.
In February, for example, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov visited three Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan – to secure their support for transport projects with Afghanistan and South Asian countries. Kamilov was traveling at the behest of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who, in his December 29 message to the country’s parliament, highlighted cooperation with South Asia and promotion of peace in Afghanistan as his main regional priorities.