Asian century

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Is the dream becoming a reality?

Nature has beautified the soil and the people of different regions with different resources. Some of the regions abound in beauty while others are qualified with grimness. At some places, the attitude is based on leniency while in others gallantry and temerity are the values in trend.

Some areas tender amplitude of natural beauty with soaring mountains and lush green fields while others have deserts and flatlands. If we gaze at Central Asian region, it is consecrated with diverse attributes. The soil and the faces of people show beauty as well as steadiness and animation. This was the region from where the Islamic world found undismayed warriors for whom Allama Muhammad Iqbal has also engendered a reiterated anamnesis in his poetry as “Shikwa-e-Tarkamani”.

The great thinker of Islam, Allama Iqbal, had also conveyed this message ninety years ago that without enthusiastic participation and cooperation of Central Asian republics, this region cannot attain real and lasting prosperity. Central Asia is the region which has been blessed with a superiority of natural resources over the whole world. Central Asia has a great share in the Islamic history of knowledge and research, exploration and creation, preaching and teaching and communication and reformation. Kazakhstan is considered amongst one of the significant countries of the region as it enjoys bounty of natural resources. On economic, commercial and diplomatic level it has established its worth and the way it has wielded its influence is really commendable and exemplary. And because of its trade and economic policies, the whole region began to dream of the “Asian century”.

Kazakhstan is considered amongst one of the significant countries of the region as it enjoys bounty of natural resources. On economic, commercial and diplomatic level it has established its worth and the way it has wielded its influence is really commendable and exemplary

The foundations for Pakistan’s relationship with the Central Asian republics were laid from the time when Allama Muhammad Iqbal foresaw the significance of this region in the time to come and suggested to lay a railway track from Kabul to Constantinople (Istanbul) through the Central Asian region to promote trade and communication amongst the Muslim world. His idea is still a beacon of light for us after a lapse of hundred years. If we had executed this plan long ago, the landlocked states could get an easy access to the Indian Ocean. It would have also significantly contributed to the growth and development of the whole region. Enormous resources of oil and gas are found in Central Asian states. In South Asia human resources are more than the resources of energy. Under such circumstances, there is a vast scope of cooperation between Central and South Asia.

Kazakhstan owns a great variety of natural resources including petrol, gas coal, bronze, lead, gold and uranium. Kazakhstan is in possession of 30 billion barrels of oil reserves and with the help of these reserves it is included in the list of top ten oil producing countries. Kazakhstan has three trillion cubic of gas reserves. The natural resources of Kazakhstan are almost worth $46 trillion. Kazakhstan has the sixth largest reserves of gold in the world. For the reserves of Iron, it is on eighth number in the world. With regard to its uranium resources, after Australia it is the second largest country with one quarter of the whole uranium of the world.

Relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan formally began on 24th February, 1992, and the Kazakhstan embassy was opened in Islamabad on 27 November, 1994. Soon after gaining independence, the President of Kazakhstan, HE Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a visit to Pakistan which reflects the significance that both countries attach to each other. In 1995 both countries signed Joint Statement on Perspectives of Bilateral Relations. The government of Pakistan also participated in the First Summit of Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), on June 4, 2002, at Almaty. After these high level interactions from Pakistan, President of Kazakhstan Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev paid official visit to Pakistan during December 8-9, 2003.

On the same footing, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s two-day recent official visit of Kazakhstan at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev has a vision of instituting energy and trade corridors with Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia. In his meeting with Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov in Astana, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif commuted views on a range of bilateral issues as well as the regional situation. He was of view that the two countries had a great potential to fortify cooperation in engineering, food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals and highways.

PM Massimov expressed his desire to become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as it would provide an alternative route for access to sea. He called for preparations for meeting of governmental commission between the two countries, saying cooperation in transport infrastructure would help promote bilateral trade.

Besides discussing ways and means to strengthen bilateral ties, the two leaders also exchanged views on the regional and international issue of mutual interest. Pakistani ports (Gwadar and Karachi) provide the shortest route to sea for the Central Asian republics (CARs), expressing Pakistan’s vision for a prosperous Central Asia with all countries connected by rail, road and air links. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan viewed Kazakhstan as an important state in the region. Its strategic geographic location and energy resources made it a more attractive and important country.

Pakistan and Kazakhstan also signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, defence and strategic studies and training in foreign services.

MoU between the National Export and Investment Agency of Kazakhstan and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) purports increasing the volume of bilateral trade, investment and technology transfer. It not only encourages the mutual exchange of information on trade but facilitates development of potential trade routes between the both countries by establishing contact among the key priority areas such as agribusiness, food industry, entertainment and services, machinery and equipment, fashion, design, technology and health, construction, metallurgy and pharmaceuticals.

Despite enormous economic complementarities, unfortunately bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan was below the actual potential. But one must hope that the required trade goals may be achieved in near future by improvising the parameters set by the leadership

The MoU between the Foreign Services Academy of Pakistan and the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Kazakhstan to develop cooperation in training and ameliorating professional acquisitions of diplomats with an intent to beef up bilateral relations. The MoU on cooperation in the area of defence and strategic studies between the National Defence University (NDU) and the Centre for Military Strategic Research of Kazakhstan aims at raising academic cooperation between two institutions through conferences, research and other academic activities.

In an interview with Astana Times, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif evoked that connectivity of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Central Asia would not only mould entire region but it would cater outstanding economic prospects and constitute a win-win situation for all countries. Both sides necessitate efforts to employ all acquirable options, while simultaneously digging into new spheres of cooperation. In this regard, Kazakhstan’s WTO membership will be instrumental in erecting the country’s trade with Pakistan, a founding member of the Organisation. Responding a question, Mr Sharif said that Pakistan would support Kazakhstan’s candidature for election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the term 2017-2018.

Major products of export from Pakistan to Kazakhstan are mainly leather, article of apparel/cloth accessories, pharmaceutical products, telecommunication appliances and equipment, cotton products, bed linen, knitwear, pharmaceuticals, garments, leather, rice, fruits and others. Despite enormous economic complementarities, unfortunately bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan was below the actual potential. But one must hope that the required trade goals may be achieved in near future by improvising the parameters set by the leadership.