KABUL: The Taliban have agreed with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build a logistics hub in western Afghanistan aimed at making the war-torn nation a major logistics point for regional exports, including oil from Russia to South Asia, the country’s commerce minister said.

Following a meeting between representatives of the three countries in the Afghan capital last week, Taliban acting commerce minister Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters that technical teams would draw up a written agreement within two months on the formal plans for the hub, which all three countries would invest in after six months of talks.

As foreign aid to Afghanistan falls and the predominantly agricultural economy is marred by persistent drought, its officially unrecognised Taliban government has faced questions over how to fund development and avoid economic stagnation.

Azizi said the new hub was part of broader efforts to take advantage of Afghanistan’s strategic location, once a thoroughfare for the ancient Silk Road trade route, lying between South and Central Asia and sharing borders with China and Iran.

“Based on our discussions, a logistics centre is going to be established in Herat province, which can connect the north to South Asia,” Azizi said, adding that the Taliban were eyeing the millions of tons of oil they expected Russia would be selling in coming years to South Asian countries, particularly Pakistan, to pass through the new hub.

“The three countries have done their best to prove Afghanistan’s claim as a connectivity point,” he said. “Reaching Pakistan through Afghanistan will be the best option,” Azizi said, adding that saying they were focused on Russia’s petroleum exports and that Kazakhstan was also planning to export goods through Herat into South Asian markets.

Kazakhstan’s trade ministry said in a statement to Reuters that it wanted to develop roads and a railway through Afghanistan to connect with South Asia and the Gulf, with the hub serving as an important logistics point.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...
Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
Updated 29 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...