LAHORE: Participants in a conference stressed the need for enhancing socioeconomic ties among South and Central Asian countries.

The Punjab University Department of History and Pakistan Studies organised the three-day international conference on ‘Central and South Asia Re-connected’ at Al Raazi Hall.

Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Yerzan Kistifan said that South and Central Asian countries should work together to increase trade, cultural, religious, and historical ties for the development of the region.

He noted that Kazakhstan and Pakistan have historical relations and that both countries are culturally connected. He emphasized that Kazakhstan wants to strengthen relations with South Asian countries at all levels for the sake of the region.

He also said that by learning lessons from history and benefiting from each other’s knowledge and experiences, we can move forward.

Mr Kistifan added that Central Asia is moving in the right direction and its future is bright, but peace in Afghanistan is necessary for the region.

He also mentioned that the war between Russia and Ukraine is damaging the world, and Ukraine is a big country for wheat production.

He stressed that countries should not rely on others for their development, peace, and prosperity and that peaceful diplomatic talks are the need of the hour.

The Punjab Higher Education Commission chairperson, Dr Shahid Munir, spoke about how Central and South Asia are home to a diverse array of cultures, languages, and histories, and how regional connectivity is crucial to unlocking the potential of this diverse and dynamic region.

He mentioned that regional connectivity is not just about the physical infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and airports, although these are important. It is also about people-to-people connectivity, trade and investment, and the exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Dr Munir also noted that by connecting businesses and markets, new opportunities for trade and investment can be unlocked, creating new jobs and economic growth.

He highlighted the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline, which will link Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as well as the development of new highways, railways, and ports as opportunities for trade, investment, and tourism.

Other speakers at the conference, such as Dr Khalid Mahmood, Dr Mahboob Hussain, and Dr Iftikhar Malik, discussed the historical and cultural ties between Central and South Asia and emphasized the need for mutual cooperation to address common issues faced by the two regions, such as security, extremism, and climatic and environmental issues.

The conference provided a platform for sharing ideas and academic exchange among delegates from the universities of four provinces and eight countries.

The conference was inaugurated by Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood, who also inaugurated a bus gifted by Hailey College of Commerce to provide better transportation facilities to the teachers, students, and employees.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2023

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