Uzbekistan Temir Yollari (Railways) will help Afghanistan repair a section of the Hairaton - Mazar-e-Sharif railroad connecting the two countries. One-hundred-and-twenty workers workers from Uzbekistan went to Naibabad station to carry out the first stage. Freight cars will also be delivered there, and rehabilitation work will be carried out at Hairaton Station and on the 57th kilometer of the line. Officials from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan agreed to repair the road on favorable terms last November. The Hairaton - Mazar-e-Sharif railroad was built for $129 million in 2010, and is currently maintained by Uzbekistan Temir Yollari's subsidiary, Sogdiana Trans. In April 2022, the Afghan authorities wanted to transfer the management and operation of the line to local companies based on the low cost of their services. However, these plans remained unrealized. Currently, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan are negotiating a trilateral project to build the Trans-Afghan railroad and provide preferential tariff rates for railway transportation. Its launch will speed up cargo delivery between Uzbekistan and Pakistan to 3-5 days, and make it three times cheaper. According to initial calculations made by Uzbekistan Temir Yollari in 2022, the cost of the railway was estimated at $4.6 billion for five years. The Committee on Railway Infrastructure of the Senate of Pakistan then made its own calculations and announced a figure of $8.2 billion. At the end of last year, the Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan reduced those calculations to $7 billion, and proposed an option to implement a public-private partnership under a format called Build-Operate-Transfer. By the end of last year, trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan grew more than sixfold, totaling $266 million annually, with more than 98% of that coming from Uzbek exports.
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Japan has long been a "steadfast supporter of Tajikistan, contributing tens of millions of dollars to the country’s development through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)." The Japanese government, through its Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is also funding the “Border Management Project” – an initiative to support the Tajik Government in controlling its national border with Afghanistan, UNDP Tajikistan reports. The project aims to both secure the length of the Tajik-Afghan border and facilitate cross-border trade. It was initially launched in 2015, and will run until 2025. Since its launch the parties have constructed a new border checkpoint at Langar, and modernized the old checkpoints at Khumrogi and Shogun. Toshihiro Aiki, Japan’s ambassador to Tajikistan, recently commented: “We have had favorable relationships with the government of Tajikistan since its first steps of independence. Japan supports Tajikistan in many ways, considering strategic aspects, especially in light of the changed political landscape involving the whole Eurasian continent. There are some challenges that not only Tajikistan but most of the countries face.” Given the problem of drug trafficking at the Tajik-Afghan border, the initiative is also supporting Tajikistan in disrupting illicit activities, protecting border communities from the harmful effects of the drug trade.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as well as Turkey, Russia, and Iran are ready to invest in Afghanistan, Taliban press secretary, Zabihullah Mujahid has told TOLOnews. A number of companies from these countries could invest in the mining and energy sectors, and the construction of hydroelectric power stations in 2024, he stated. Mujahid said that in 2023, great work had been done to attract foreign investment, and this work will continue in 2024. This issue is currently in the negotiating stage with some companies, whilst others have already started work. The Ministry of Economy noted that foreign investors will be provided with all necessary assistance, adding that foreign parties are ready to invest in agriculture, trade, energy, railway and infrastructure projects. The Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesman, Okhundzoda Abdulsalam Javad also informed TOLOnews that Afghanistan’s trade turnover with Uzbekistan increased in 2023 to $266 million, up from $44 million in 2022.
Tajikistan, a Central Asian country, finds itself at the center of a significant narcotics trade route. This landlocked nation borders Afghanistan, a country that as of 2020, accounted for over 80% of global opium production (source). This geographical positioning has led to a profound influence on Tajikistan's social, economic, and political landscape. The narcotics trade has a significant economic impact in Tajikistan, given its strategic location bordering Afghanistan. This illicit trade has both direct and indirect influences on the country's economy. According to Matthew Kahane, the UNDP head in Tajikistan, it has been estimated that the drug trade accounts for 30% to 50% of the country's economy. Furthermore, drug trafficking through Tajikistan was estimated to generate $2.7 billion per year in 2011, potentially surpassing any legitimate source of wealth in the country. However, this income does not contribute to the country's overall economic development. Instead, it fosters corruption, undermines legal economic activities, and concentrates wealth in the hands of drug traffickers and corrupt officials. In addition, the narcotics trade increases the level of crime, corruption and the rich-poor divide. Moreover, Tajikistan's law enforcement agencies receive substantial financial and technical resources from foreign donors to aid them in the fight against drugs. However, the effectiveness of these efforts is questionable given the scale of the narcotics trade. The narcotics trade in Tajikistan has extensive social impacts, affecting various facets of the society ranging from public health to crime rates. One of the most immediate social impacts is the rise in substance abuse, particularly among the youth. In the last ten years, there has been an increase in drug use behavior among the youth in Tajikistan, leading to serious health consequences. Heroin use, in particular, is a significant concern. It not only harms the users but also places a strain on the country's healthcare system, which is ill-equipped to handle the rising number of addicts. The narcotics trade has a significant political impact in Tajikistan. The illicit drug trade has reportedly corrupted parts of Tajikistan's government. The lucrative profits from narcotics have incentivized officials at all levels to tolerate or even engage in drug trafficking. This corruption undermines the legitimacy of public institutions and erodes citizens' trust in their government. The narcotics trade poses a serious security threat. Non-state armed groups often use drug trafficking as a source of funding, which can destabilize the region and exacerbate conflict. In addition, the high levels of crime associated with the drug trade can lead to increased violence and social unrest. The Taliban, a dominant insurgent group in Afghanistan, is implicated in escalating narcotics trafficking in Tajikistan, a situation exacerbated by Afghanistan's instability and corroborated by reports from the UNODC and Eurasianet. Recognizing these challenges, international organizations and governments have developed programs to combat the narcotics trade in Tajikistan. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has implemented several projects aimed at strengthening border control, improving the criminal justice response to drug trafficking, and promoting regional cooperation. Furthermore, the European Union and the...
The acting head of the Ministry of Water and Energy of the Taliban, Abdul-Latif Mansur, recently held a meeting with Murad Artykov, the head of the Department of International Electric Power Projects in the Turkmen Ministry of Energy. This marked the second official dialogue between the two leaders. The TAP Project A significant part of their discussion revolved around the TAP project, also known as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Interconnection Project. This proposed initiative aims to connect the power grids of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, strengthening power trade between these countries. It is seen as a crucial step towards enhancing energy security, promoting regional cooperation, and supporting economic development within the region. The TAP project is a part of broader efforts to develop energy infrastructure and promote connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia. The Taliban representatives reportedly expressed readiness to launch the project and are now awaiting the participation of the remaining stakeholders. The 500 kV Power Transmission Line Another key point of discussion was the development of the 500 kV power transmission line "Turkmenistan - Shibargan - Dashti-Alvan - Argandi". This line is intended to facilitate the import of electricity from Turkmenistan to meet the growing energy demands in Afghanistan. The Taliban urged Ashgabat to intensify efforts towards this goal. The "Nur al-Jihad" Substation The meeting also covered the "Nur al-Jihad" substation, a project nearing completion that will provide electricity to the Afghan provinces of Herat and Farah. This substation is a collaboration between Afghanistan's power utility company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), and Turkmenistan. The project will increase the capacity of the Noor Al-Jihad substation from 110 kilovolts to 220 kilovolts. The substation is located in Herat province. Artykov outlined the goals of the visit, which included extending contracts for the supply of Turkmen energy and expanding energy cooperation. Implications Despite the Taliban being under UN sanctions for terrorist activities, discussions between Turkmenistan and the Taliban regarding energy and infrastructure projects have been ongoing, as reported by various sources including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Caspian News. Turkmenistan already exports electricity to areas in northern Afghanistan, some of which are under Taliban control. These talks also involved the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which the Taliban has shown support for.
TEHRAN (TCA) — A senior Iranian official says a major railway connecting Iran and neighboring Afghanistan will be ready in March 2020 as construction of a key cross-border line is nearing completion, Iran’s PressTV news agency reported. Continue reading