Reaching out to Central Asian states – Part-II

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Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Islamabad should take it as an added advantage that ambassadors of the most of the Central Asian states including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan not only speak English very well but also genuinely want strengthening of relations with Pakistan.

A few of them are fluent in Urdu also.  Previously ambassadors from these countries would always have an interpreter thus making it difficult to have easy and smooth communication. While there is no communication barrier anymore and these top diplomats do want to give new dimensions to their relations with Pakistan, it is now incumbent upon Islamabad to respond quickly and in a positive manner.

The Central Asian countries have been playing an instrumental role for peace in the region and fight against terrorism and extremism. Pakistan’s political and military establishments have been working hand in hand with these governments in order to make sure that safe havens of terrorists are eliminated for good. Leaderships of these countries appear to be on the same page in terms of regional peace and security for all projects of strategic nature such as CASA 1000, can be run only when fool-proof security is ensured. Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan visited Pakistan on November 01 and held talks with top Pakistani political and military leadership including Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan. Among other things security in the region was also discussed in detail and both sides agreed to continue cooperation in this particular field. Additionally, both sides determined to make joint efforts for peace in Afghanistan considering Afghanistan part of the solution and not part of problem.

Kazakhstan is yet another very important country in Central Asia. The new ambassador of Kazakhstan in a recent interaction expressed his desire to further strengthen relations with Pakistan. Ambassador Akan possesses excellent communication skills and has an earnest desire to take bilateral relations to new heights. He speaks Urdu very well. The global initiatives of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues have lauded by all and sundry, especially in Pakistan, Islamabad has consistently supported the initiative of nuclear disarmament.

Relations between Republic of Kazakhstan and Pakistan since the establishment of diplomatic relations on 24 February 1992 have been developing in the spirit of friendship and partnership with high level of political cooperation. Since then both countries are able to establish high level contacts with a view to giving new dimensions to bilateral relations.

Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan enjoy cordial relations. The diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan were established on 10 May 1992. At the same time Kyrgyz-Pakistani historical relations can be traced back centuries ago. Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan Erik Beishembiev in his recent interview said “Pakistan has a high demand of power energy for its growing economy. At the same time Kyrgyzstan is rich in water resources which are used for electricity production by a number of hydropower stations. My country is a member of the project CASA-1000, which is aimed at bringing surplus electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hydropower stations in summer times to Pakistan through the territory of Afghanistan”.

Central Asia has a lot to offer to Pakistan and vice versa therefore efforts should be made to explore this potential. Leaders of various Central Asian states have been visiting Pakistan on regular basis. It is incumbent upon Pakistani side also to reciprocate in same manner because it always takes two to make a clap.

COVID-19 pandemic, ostensibly appears to have stalled process of development of bilateral and multilateral relations however situation is getting better and better with the each passing day. Pakistan has already allowed domestic and international flights to operate as. From September 15, the remaining sectors such as educational institutions, wedding halls etc shall also be allowed to work which means life will return to normalcy, at least in Pakistan. One should hope Pakistan and Central Asian states shall be able to revert to Pre-COVID level sooner rather than later.