U.S. rebalance to Asia is a fundamental recognition that this continent will play a growing role in global politics, security, and economics in the 21st century.
South and Central Asia is a region in the midst of great transition, said newly sworn in U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal.
With political transitions in five of the countries in the region between now and next spring, many are apprehensive. But the transitions also present an opportunity for greater regional integration, Biswal contends. The U.S. rebalance to Asia is a fundamental recognition that this continent will play a growing role in global politics, security, and economics in the 21st century.
Despite that, it is up to the countries in the region to realize their potential by addressing the challenges of inadequate governance, pervasive corruption, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and advancing human dignity and human rights.
But as Assistant Secretary Biswal points out, with challenges come opportunities. The nascent political transition in Burma has the potential to connect the countries of South Asia with the countries of Southeast Asia in an integrated economic landscape. And India, already an economic and global power, is making key investments in infrastructure to connect with the economies of ASEAN. Bangladesh stands to benefit greatly from the establishment of an Indo-Pacific economic corridor if it can conquer the divisive legacy of its past and come together around a democratic political transition in the coming months.
Nepal, which has just concluded historic elections, can look forward to growing its economy and seeing prosperity that has eluded its people during the decades of insurgency and political instability. And in that most prominent of transitions in Afghanistan, there is an opportunity for renewed connectivity between the resource and energy-rich countries of Central Asia and the teeming markets of South Asia.
Throughout the region, the U.S. is partnering with governments and civil society to support the political development of young democracies, such as Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, Maldives, while helping to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, and supporting reconciliation in post-conflict societies such as Sri Lanka.
The United States partnership with Kazakhstan, its efforts at collaboration with Uzbekistan to provide transport and energy links to Afghanistan makes clear its interest and engagement with the region is an enduring one.