Pakistan’s Economy and Connectivity: Looking towards Iran and the Central Asian States


  • Nausheen Wasi Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi.


Connectivity, trade routes, economic cooperation, partnership projects, conflict management, potential-delivery gap


Pakistan, positioned at the intersection of South Asia, the Middle East, and Central Asia, boasts immense economic potential. This geographical advantage theoretically primes Pakistan to cultivate robust economic relations with its neighbours and facilitate broader regional connectivity. However, this promise has been faced with persistent challenges. Existing literature on Pakistan's connectivity initiatives typically accentuates the anticipated benefits of ongoing and planned projects and regional collaboration resulting in sporadic enthusiasm for new projects, while substantive change remains elusive. There is no longitudinal research tracking the ongoing progress and agreement status of projects. This research aims to address this gap by offering a comprehensive analysis of potential benefits and achievements. Pakistan’s relations with Iran and the Central Asian states are the particular focus of this paper. Its findings suggest that until a holistic approach to conflict management is adopted and Afghanistan is peaceful, connectivity would remain at best an ambition. Yet, Pakistan should focus on alternative routes to improve its economic conditions. It aspires afresh to provide a perspective that empowers policymakers and stakeholders with a deeper understanding of challenges on the ground that result in a potential-delivery gap. Ultimately, it desires to shift the discourse on Pakistan's connectivity initiatives from mere aspirations to tangible, transformative achievements.