Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the other Central Asian republics have deep historical and cultural ties and increasingly important economic relations with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has put forward a vision of Afghanistan as a roundabout for Asia, linking the markets and peoples of Central and South Asia in mutual prosperity. With ongoing efforts to establish enduring peace in Afghanistan, there will need to be extensive regional support and consensus from Afghanistan’s northern neighbors. And given the increased challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, regional cooperation is more critical than ever to ensure peace and stability throughout the region.

Several Central Asian countries have already become involved in the peace process.  Uzbekistan played a constructive role in the recent efforts for peace by hosting the Tashkent Conference of major international parties, which reaffirmed strong support for intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban without preconditions. And in recent years, Kazakhstan has provided both trade and aid to support key economic and social initiatives in Afghanistan for higher education, essential goods, and infrastructure.  

On July 24, USIP hosted Ambassadors Roya Rahmani of Afghanistan, Javlon Vakhavbov of Uzbekistan, and Erzhan Kazykhanov of Kazakhstan for a virtual discussion on how the peace process can improve opportunities for greater regional connectivity and stability around areas of mutual interest, including security, trade, and transit. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad provided remarks on the important role of Central Asia in the Afghan peace process.


Her Excellency Roya Rahmani
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United States

His Excellency Javlon Vakhabov
Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United States 

His Excellency Erzhan Kazykhanov  
Ambassdor of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United States 

His Excellency Zalmay Khalilzad
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation

Andrew Wilder, welcoming remarks 
Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Scott Worden, moderator
Director, Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Afghanistan’s Economy Once Again Nears the Precipice

Afghanistan’s Economy Once Again Nears the Precipice

Friday, November 17, 2023

By: Belquis Ahmadi;  William Byrd, Ph.D.;  Scott Worden

More than two years into Taliban rule, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world with some of the highest humanitarian needs. The situation has shown some signs of stabilizing over the last year — but many Afghan households are still struggling to procure basic needs, and many women have been driven from the workforce altogether. Unfortunately, financial troubles loom ahead, and the already beleaguered Afghan economy is now projected to decline. Combined with population growth and the influx of thousands of Afghans forced to return from neighboring Pakistan, this is a recipe for increased humanitarian need over the longer term in the absence of major structural and political reforms.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EconomicsHuman Rights

In a Major Rift, Pakistan Ramps Up Pressure on the Taliban

In a Major Rift, Pakistan Ramps Up Pressure on the Taliban

Thursday, November 16, 2023

By: Asfandyar Mir, Ph.D.

On November 8, in an unprecedented press conference, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul-Haq Kakar offered a blistering critique of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. He announced that the Taliban leadership was supporting the anti-Pakistan insurgency of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and that had contributed to a major increase in violence in Pakistan — leading to 2,867 Pakistani fatalities since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyViolent Extremism

A Shift Toward More Engagement with the Taliban?

A Shift Toward More Engagement with the Taliban?

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

By: Kate Bateman

Since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the United States has found itself in a vexing dilemma — wanting to condemn and hold accountable the Taliban regime for persecuting women and girls, harboring terrorists and failing to govern inclusively, but also wanting Afghanistan to avoid famine and civil war, and achieve some economic and political stability. U.S. policymakers have thus tried to balance principle and pragmatism. To exert pressure on the Taliban, the United States has withheld diplomatic recognition and traditional development aid, frozen Afghan Central Bank assets and maintained sanctions on Taliban leaders.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

International Day of the Girl Is a Cruel Irony for Daughters in Afghanistan

International Day of the Girl Is a Cruel Irony for Daughters in Afghanistan

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

By: Belquis Ahmadi

As leaders, activists and families across the world commemorate the International Day of the Girl on October 11, the harsh reality faced by millions of Afghan girls stands in stark contrast to many of the planned celebrations. For 750 days and counting, Afghan girls have been forcibly deprived of their right to education and their future because of the Taliban regime’s repressive policies.

Type: Blog


View All Publications