The South-Central Asian region has experienced important changes in the last decade, but anxieties related to the security of post-2014 Afghanistan have obscured how growing communication links, as well as road and rail infrastructures, are transforming the way regional countries connect with Afghanistan and with each other. The growth of Afghanistan’s economy, fueled by international assistance and massive reconstruction, has also benefited the region. The web of multilateral and multi-level diplomatic engagement on energy exports, trade, and transportation has created important pathways for greater regional connectivity.
However, tenuous political relations among countries in the region, adverse security environments, and poor infrastructure still remain key challenges to improving this connectivity. The absence of normalized relations between India and Pakistan is the single most important barrier. Regulatory issues and fraught politics have also prevented Pakistan and Afghanistan from exploiting their full trade potential. Besides negatively impacting bilateral trade, bottlenecks in Afghanistan-Pakistan have also prevented greater regional connectivity from occurring in South-Central Asia.
So far, all of the notable initiatives focused on regional connectivity have remained limited to state-to-state cooperation under various multilateral platforms. While such public sector initiatives are important, they often suffer from bureaucratic inertia and can be held hostage by the political relationships among regional states.
The New America Foundation is pleased to welcome Deputy Assistant Secretary Fatema Sumar for a discussion on ways to expand regional connectivity within South-Central Asia and to increase the participation of private-sector partners and businesses within the region.
Join the conversation online using #SCAsiaConnect and following @NatSecNAF.
If you are unable to join us in person, please tune in to our live webcast the day of the event. No signup is required to view the streaming video.