Pakistan-Uzbekistan Ties: Aiming Shared and Prosperous Future

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Pakistan-Uzbekistan ties are tied up with deep historical, religious, and cultural affinities. The relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan gained strength over the years because of these affinities and shared values, hence both states worked towards having close cooperation with each other at the international and regional level. Pakistan and Uzbekistan are situated in a region of great geostrategic importance. Cooperation between the two distant neighbors is significant for the political and economic well-being of the entire region which will eventually lead towards sustainable peace and development. The recent visit of Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov to Pakistan has further strengthened the commitment of both brotherly countries towards shared destiny and a prosperous future based on peace, development, trade, and connectivity.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan, though, have over 29 year’s diplomatic relations but they have deep-rooted historical roots. Pakistan has equally been inspired and affected by the cultural, rich traditions, values of the great civilization sprouted in the region from today’s Uzbekistan. The region, which is now known as Uzbekistan, has produced prolific and great scholars, thinkers, and physicians in history who spent their entire lives working in the fields of medicine and science which laid the foundation of modern science, health technology, and medicine.

It is pertinent to mention that the scholars like Imam Bukhari, Imam Tirmzi, Al-Khorezmi, Abu Rayan al-Biruni, Abu Ali Ibn Sina, and Ulugbek have significantly contributed to the development of modern civilizations of today’s world. Moreover, it has also remained the center of the world’s economic attention because of the establishment of the old Silk Road across Eurasian lands. The old Silk Road is also one of the core reasons behind spreading new principles, religions, ideologies, arts, crafts, traditions, values, cuisines, and technologies.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan have been enjoying brotherly bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1991 but the relations between these nation-states have witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years. Both countries had been closely collaborating at regional and international forums, especially at the UN, OIC, ECO, and SCO, now they are further strengthening the ties by enhancing cooperation in bilateral trade and better connectivity with each other and beyond.

For instance, in the last month, Uzbekistan hosted the first trilateral talks in which Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, Advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razzaq Dawood, and Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar participated. These talks resulted in the adoption of the Mazar-i Shareef-Kabul-Peshawar Road Map. According to this roadmap, a 600-km railroad will be constructed in five years which will give access to Pakistani ports, Gwadar, and Karachi.

In addition to it, it is being said that the this railroad would shorten the transportation time, from Uzbekistan to Pakistan, from 30 to 15 days and also reduce the cost of transportation by 30-35 percent. The success of this project will not only benefit Uzbekistan or other Central Asian States but also the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia as the cost of transportation between these two countries would also reduce by 15-20 percent.

Moreover, the economic relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan have also shown exponential growth in the recent times. As a result of enhanced cooperation between the two nations, for example, in 2018-2019, trade turnover between Uzbekistan and Pakistan rose three times and amounted around $100 million. During the recent visit of Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, he also attended the first meeting of Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Affairs.

During the meeting of Joint Working Group, both the sides, Uzbek and Pakistani, agreed to enhance bilateral trade ties between both the countries. “I am glad to share that I held very productive bilateral meetings in Tashkent with the leadership of Uzbekistan on trade, Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), Transit Trade and Custom Cooperation,” Mr. Razak said at the conclusion of his visit to Uzbekistan. In addition, the Uzbek side invited Pakistan business delegation to organize a Joint Exhibition in Tashkent in June, 2021.

To further strengthen bilateral brotherly ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov has paid two-day visit to Pakistan which has concluded on 10th March 2021 with the meetings of Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan with FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi and PM Imran Khan. During the meeting, PM Imran Khan has expressed appreciation for the proposed Trans-Afghan railway project.

PM Imran Khan has also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to support all efforts for the earliest realization of this important regional connectivity project. While meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov has reiterated Uzbekistan’s commitment to expand bilateral cooperation with Pakistan in diverse fields. Moreover, he also handed over a letter from President Mirziyoyev to Prime Minister Imran Khan, inviting him to participate in a Central Asia-South Asia Connectivity Conference in Tashkent in July 2021.

Moreover, during the meeting between FM Qureshi and FM Kamilov, the two Foreign Ministers expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in advancing rail connectivity between the two countries and agreed on early completion of Trans-Afghan railway project. FM Qureshi underscored the importance of closer agricultural cooperation between the two countries particularly in cotton seed sector. He also expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation between the two countries in the multilateral organizations such as the UN, OIC, ECO and SCO.

On the other side, Mr. Kamilov, while meeting with FM Qureshi, highlighted Pakistan’s positive role for the facilitation of Intra-Afghan Negotiations. The Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s support to Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process culminating in an inclusive and broad-based political solution. He also underlined the grave and systemic human rights violations in IIOJK by Indian security forces.

Deep-rooted religious, cultural, and historical affinities have provided a strong base for the establishment of brotherly ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Now, the enhanced bilateral trade, political, people-to-people, and economic ties between the two nations have paved the way for a shared and prosperous future centered on peace and development which will ultimately lead to sustainable peace and development for the entire region.

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