Pakistan and Afghanistan: Areas of cooperation

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Naseebullah Khan
Being the immediate neighbours, having the same cultures, the presence of ethnicities living across both sides of Durand line, having a common religion, and enjoying the strategic locations _there are immense areas of cooperation between both Pakistan and Afghanistan which could revolutionize many sectors provided that a robust, coherent, and pragmatic strategies are formulated. An area of cooperation that can help in the economic recovery of both states is bilateral trade__which has shrunk to 700 million USD from 2 Billion US Dollars__that has the potential of 8 to 10 billion USD annually. The trade decline occurred when the friendly relations were diverted during the rule of Ashraf Ghani. Pakistan can be a good market for Afghanistan’s fruits, carpets, and dry fruit products whereas Afghanistan can be a good destination for Pakistan’s agricultural products along with constructing materials. There is a dire need of erasing trade-related issues too so that to enhance bilateral trade.Another area of cooperation that can provide a win-win scenario for both countries is the CPEC. The strategic location of both country__where Afghanistan is located at the mouthpiece of energy-rich Central Asian countries, whereas Pakistan is lying at the door of the Indian Ocean, could bring enormous economic benefits for both Countries. Afghanistan is in dire need of energy and infrastructural development which can only be possible through the robust investment of China under the umbrella of CPEC. Whereas, if Afghanistan partners with CPEC, it will help Pakistan to expand its trade with CARs countries and overcome the energy shortage. Pakistan has a well-trained Army and expertise that can assist and train the Afghan forces. Combine military exercises can further equip the Afghan forces with war techniques. This military engagement can help in Afghanistan’s defense whose inability and incapability have been important reasons for the collapsing security which further paved the way for foreign invasions. After decades of war, the education and health sectors of Afghanistan have been damaged bitterly. Although Pakistan has been providing hundreds of scholarships to Afghan doctors and other students still these sectors are in dire need of improvement. Pakistan has an abundance of expertise in both sectors which can increase the capacity buildings in both sectors of Afghanistan. The Taliban has taken control of the government in Afghanistan. This should be seen in the prism of opportunity for both countries in establishing friendly relations which were stressed during the previous government. The cooperation in the areas of peace, eradication of terrorism and foreign involvement, health, education, and military would enhance the avenues of mutual collaboration between both countries.