Central Asia Summit and the situation in Pakistan

A two-day summit of leaders of China and five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, ended in Xi’an, China. The meeting aimed to strengthen economic and trade ties in the region, as Central Asia, especially in connection with the sanctions imposed on Russia, is gaining importance in trade and international relations. Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, the region’s countries offer transit through which trade between China and Europe can take place. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, China’s direct investments in all Central Asian countries exceeded USD 15 billion at the end of March this year. The Chinese can also offer countries in the region visa-free travel and security agreements.

Due to the political crisis in Pakistan, India cannot have a constructive dialogue with its regional rival. On May 9th paramilitary forces arrested former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, sparking violent riots across the country. At the same time, the current coalition government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is struggling with the deepening economic crisis. According to Dr Stuti Bhatnagar, a fellow at the Australian National University, relations between the two countries have been steadily deteriorating for several years, as “there is little scope for dialogue and no political consensus on resuming talks, especially in India.” In addition, authorities in New Delhi continue to accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in the region, which Islamabad vehemently denies.

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