Furqat Didiqov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan
Q.: Excellency, сan you please brief us on current activities to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation between Uzbekistan and Pakistan and what kind of events will be held this summer to boost dynamically growing relations?
A.: Thank you for your question, indeed the main important event convened recently on April 14, 2021 was the successful Online Summit at the highest level convened between the leaders of our brotherly countries. The outcomes of the April`s Online Summit were highly and positively perceived as the fruitful candid and active virtual interaction between the Heads of Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
President of Uzbekistan H.E. Shavkat Mirziyaev and H.E. PM of Islamic Republic of Pakistan H.E. Imran Khan had held in depth analyses of the current state of the multifaceted relations as well as the ongoing implementation of intraregional cooperation.
The Road map, as effective monitoring tool was approved by the Government of Uzbekistan according to the agreements our two leaders which contains the particular dates, responsible persons for the implementation of the multifaceted projects and identified the detailed dimensions for the further expansion of the trade-economic, investment, transport, logistics education tourism and people to people contacts.
Our two governments, trade and commerce chambers, non-governmental organizations and private businessmen are working very hard to implement the agenda and agreed mutually beneficial projects between Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
Indeed, forthcoming high level Visit of Hon PM of Pakistan H.E. Mr Imran Khan will be next important milestone in the history of our two countries as genuine continuation of the political dialogue as well as industrial cooperation, widening the inflow of the mutual investment, technical and scientific educational interaction.
The Ministry of the foreign affairs of Uzbekistan in active cooperation with Ministry of foreign trade and investments and other stake holders are in closest coordination and working very hard with Pakistany colleagues and their counterparts to prepare the substantial and result oriented Visit of Hon H.E. PM of Islamic Republic of Pakistan H.E. Mr Imran Khan Prime Minister of Uzbekistan to Uzbekistan.
Two leaders of Uzbekistan and Pakistan also agreed that in nearest days ahead our foreign offices will held 1st political consultations. Of course after this event two embassies Uzbekistan`s in Islamabad and Pakistan`s in Tashkent will actively engage and cooperate with the relevant ministries trade and commerce chambers, non-governmental organizations and private businessmen to prepare the fruitful agenda for our leaders during the forthcoming high-level event.
No doubt that the forthcoming high-level visit will be a continuation of the active interaction of the leaders of the two countries to discuss on joint actions for cooperation in the areas of economic affairs, transport connectivity, defense, security, as well as a partnership in combating against the pandemic.
It`s worth to mention that such active, open and candid interaction between the heads of Uzbekistan and Pakistan is of great importance not only for bilateral relations but also for intraregional connectivity.
Q.: Excellency, we want to ask about the Project of the Century – the construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar railway line. Please brief us on significance of this project for all parties involved in it, as well as for the development of Uzbek-Pakistani relations and the Central Asian region in particular.
A.: This significant trilateral project will provide a completely new transport and transit corridor Central and South Asian countries. It diversifies the transport flows of the region. Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar route with subsequent access to the ports of Karachi and Gwadar will allow us to significantly reduce export and import costs.
From the position of South Asian countries, commissioning of Trans-Afghan railway corridor to Pakistan direction will significantly reduce the delivery time of goods to/from Central Asia, the CIS and Europe.
For example, if the project would be fully implemented,
the transportation of goods from Pakistan to Uzbekistan will have to spend not 35 days, but only 3-5 days. Instead of movement of almost a month, this will take less than a week. In means the reducing the cost of transporting goods, which means saving money. According to preliminary calculations, laying the route will reduce cost of transporting of one container by almost 3 times.
According to expert estimates, the cost of transporting goods from Tashkent to Karachi will be almost 1.5-2 times cheaper than the existing ones.
Continuing this logical chain, we can already predict that an increase in the profitability of transportation will automatically contribute to an increase in freight traffic and interregional trade.
The launch of Mazar-i-Sharif-Peshawar railway will also create a powerful platform for achieving inclusive economic development for Pakistan and will also contribute to the expansion of the transport and communication network within Afghanistan. Moreover, Mazar-i-Sharif-Peshawar line will become part of the broader infrastructural connectivity of Central and South Asia.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate both brotherly nations on such high achievements. I am happy to mention that by strong will of our leaders, Uzbekistan and Pakistan are becoming main partners, whose cooperation only strengthens projects for the sustainable development of the peoples of South and Central Asia.
Q.: Your Excellency please brief us on the development of trade and economic cooperation between Uzbekistan and Pakistan and what areas can be considered the most promising in in this area?
A.: Our countries have a great mutual interest in further increasing of the volume of mutual trade. By the great efforts of all ministries of Islamic Republic of Pakistan especially of the Foreign Office and the Ministry of commerce, the Hon Adviser to Prime Minister of Pakistan for Commerce and Investment H.E. Abdul Razak Dawood effective measures are being taken by Pakistan side to speed up negotiation process on bilateral Preferential Trade Agreement.
According to Statistical Committee of Uzbekistan in 2020 bilateral trade with Pakistan exceeded $123 million. In January-May 2021 the trade turnover between Uzbekistan and Pakistan amounted to 69.4 million (+ 260%).
Today, over 140 enterprises with Pakistan operate in Uzbekistan. Their activities are mainly related to trade, pharmaceuticals, textiles, paper, leather goods and food production.
In March 14-18 of this year the delegation of the Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan headed by the Deputy Chairman of “Uzbekistan Railways” visited the Pakistani seaports in Karachi and Gwadar.
Negotiations were held on the creation of the first off-dock terminal of Uzbekistan in the seaports of Pakistan. An agreement was reached on the organization of joint intermodal transportation
of Uzbek goods to the seaports of Pakistan.
In April Pakistani logistics company TCS organized the first direct delivery of Pakistani cargo from Karachi directly to Tashkent in transit through Afghanistan.
May Uzbek forwarding company “Asad Trans” in collaboration with Pakistan transport company “Best Trans Pvt. Ltd. ” for the first time realized a pilot logistic project on direct delivery of Uzbek export cargo from Tashkent directly to Faisalabad through the territory of Afghanistan.
According to the will of our leaders the activities Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation has been renewed and it was agreed to that the next session of this Commission will be held in July 2021 in Tashkent.
Having said this let me point out that Uzbekistan considers Pakistan as a reliable and promising partner in the region of South Asia.
Taking into account the potential of our countries, as the trust and partnership expanded and mutually beneficial cooperation strengthened then in near future two sides may open the new page of the interaction based on the strategical partnership bonds and principles.
Q.: As you know Excellence, our two countries are linked by close cultural and historical ties, the rich heritage of the Uzbek and Pakistan people is highly valued and revered in both countries. Please tell us about how cultural and humanitarian ties between Uzbekistan and Pakistan are developing today.
A.: Pakistan is cradle of civilizations closely linked with Uzbekistan and Central Asia. We have a lot of similarities are connected by one religion, single school of Islamic teaching, tasawwuf and fiqh, common centuries-old history associated with the Baburid dynasty, common traditions and values and even language.
There are more than 40 thousand identical words in the Uzbek language and the Urdu language. Many people in Pakistan can say: my roots are in Bukhara, Samarqand or Fergana and so on.
The Baburid dynasty left in Pakistan an invaluable historical and cultural heritage that contributed to the creation of a unique civilization in the region, including literature and art. And this is the solid foundation of unique, strong and friendly Pakistani-Uzbek relations.
In February of this year, we jointly organized an opening ceremony of the “Center for Babur’s Legacy” in Punjab University during of which held a contest among 70 students who presented their paintings dedicated to Baburid’s dynasty in Pakistan etc.
It should also be said that the rich scientific and literary heritage of the Uzbek people is highly valued in Pakistan, great scientists and thinkers Abu Ali ibn Sino, Alisher Navoi, Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur and others are honored.
In Uzbekistan operates “International Babur’s Foundation” who IA will work closely with the “Center for Babur’s Legacy” in Punjab University in order to promote the heritage of the Baburids in Pakistan as well as to organize joint conferences dedicated to the life and work of our great common ancestors.