By Mustafaev Bakhtiyor Rustamovich, head of the department at Uzbekistan’s Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies.
Resolving Afghanistan’s internal struggle remains one of the key issues in ensuring regional and international security around the country and Central Asia in particular. The military and political situation in the country has remained complicated for years, exacerbated by the accelerated withdrawal of more than half of the International Security Assistance Forces, as well as a subsequent reduction in external financial support. The situation is increasingly worsened by growing rivalries between forces in and around Afghanistan.
Although Kabul has undertaken a number of political, economic and security measures to improve the situation, the prospect of its own resolution of conflicts and contradictions seems far.
We can draw several possible solutions for the worsening crises.
First of all, the Afghan conflict’s settlement must and can only be based on an internal national consensus between the main warring factions and Taliban through peaceful political negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. For successful modern nation-building, it is necessary to support Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty and confirm its identity, history, culture and traditions.
Secondly, the situation requires all stakeholders in Afghanistan and the region as a whole to come together for dialogue and negotiations for a compromised solution. All involved parties must develop practical mechanisms for implementation and the efforts of all interest groups should not substitute but complement one another.
Thirdly, the aid from donor countries and international institutions must be aimed at the real improvement of institutional building and living standards. Creating the necessary economic infrastructure can have a stabilizing effect on security.
In this context, the statement of Uzbek President Mirziyoyev Shavkat Miromonovich, which read “the peaceful transition of Afghanistan, in which the countries of our region can and should take part, largely depends on its economic development,” deserves the world’s attention. He highlighted that joint infrastructure projects in Afghanistan could play a substantial role, principally the development of a trans-Afghan transport corridor that will also have a positive impact on regional countries with connections to ports in South Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
Establishing peace in Afghanistan will bring enormous and noticeable benefits to all countries of the Eurasian continent. Sustainable peace and stability in the country will stimulate the construction of roads and railways, as well as the development of regional and trans-regional trade links and multi-directional pipelines.
Our Foreign Minister A.Kh.Kamilov echoed the president’s view, saying, “The international community should start looking at Afghanistan not as a source of regional problems, threats and challenges, but rather a unique strategic opportunity capable of breaking the established status quo and shaping the fundamental grounds for a multilateral interaction, which will serve our common prosperity and well-being.”
Political analysts have noted that Uzbekistan’s participation in the design and construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Shibergan-Maymana-Herat railway will contribute to the quick recovery of Afghanistan’s economy.
Uzbekistan’s relations with the neighboring countries have intensified recently, and the spheres of productive partnership are steadily growing and expanding, thereby contributing to the prosperity of our countries and the region.
The Republic of Uzbekistan has traditionally pursued a neighborly friendly policy toward the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, taking into account our historical experiences and strong commitments to long-term stability. Uzbekistan adheres to this policy based on international laws and norms of noninterference in internal affairs as well as nonparticipation in military and political blocs. We respect the choice that the Afghan people will make regarding the future of their country.
Of special importance, Uzbekistan is determined to help stabilize Afghanistan by participating in the implementation of specific projects for peaceful construction, alongside the restoration of its economy destroyed by long-term wars.
In particular, a memorandum on the construction of the Hairaton-Mazar-i-Sharif railway was signed between the Asian Development Bank and the governments of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in November 2008.
The construction of railways 106.5 kilometers in length were completed in 2010, with the length of the main roads being 75 km, allowing more than 9 million tons of cargo per year. At the request of the Afghan government, Uzbekistan has built 11 bridges and crossings on the Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul road section.
The activation of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in the field of fiber-optic communication lines connecting the two countries began with the official opening ceremony in July 2009 in Hairaton. After commissioning of the Hairaton-Puli-Khumri-Kabul Electricity Supply Line in 2010, electricity began to flow to the capital of Afghanistan from Uzbekistan, doubling the capacity from 150 to 300 megawatts.
During the Shanghai Cooperation Summit in Astana in early June, agreements were reached on delivering up to 300,000 tons of mineral fertilizers annually, 2,000 units of agricultural machineries, up to 250,000 tons of wheat and other food products to Afghanistan.