Uzbekistan-Pakistan and Greater Regional Cooperation

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif completed his official two day visit to the Republic of Uzbekistan during which he met with H.E. Islam Kairmov and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyayev and discussed wide areas of bilateral cooperation. The two countries shared similar views on major regional and international issues and collaborate closely on multilateral for a, including the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

They had fruitful dialogue and agreed to increase the bilateral trade through greater commercial diplomacy and economic activities. Both the countries also signed four documents of cooperation for enhancement of bilateral ties in diverse fields. The sides also considered issues of strengthening regional security, fighting terrorism, extremism and illegal drug trafficking.

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President Islam Karimov, in his address, said Pakistan is an important player in the region as well as the world owing to its geographical and geo-political situation. He also appreciated Pakistan’s policy of pursuing peace and stability and regional connectivity. He also noted its road-map of enhancing trade and business ties with the Central Asian Republics.

Islam Karimov said that current visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Uzbekistan considers as important new stage in long-term Uzbek-Pakistani relations and evidence for readiness of the sides to continue open and trustful dialogue at high level on actual issues of bilateral, regional and international character and give additional impulse to multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation.

He said there is a need for coordinated efforts and cooperation to tackle the challenge of terrorism. He also lauded the economic development of Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Krimov recalled Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Uzbekistan in 1992 saying that since then, both the countries have effectively maintained their ties in a progressive manner.

Nawaz Sharif said during the meeting with the Uzbek President, matters of mutual interest, including cooperation in economy, energy and other sectors, were discussed. Nawaz Sharif said there is also need to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of climate change, agriculture and science and technology. The Prime Minister said his government desired to build an energy infrastructure corridor to enhance connectivity with the Central Asian states.

He lauded the economic achievement made by Uzbek Republic for what he said the credit goes to the sagacious leadership of the country. The prime minister said that Uzbekistan was witnessing around 8 per cent economic growth rate that was unprecedented to achieve within short span of time. He said there was a need to expand the bilateral ties particularly in economic sector.

Both countries agreed on expanding cooperation to boost trade and investment, besides closer interaction in security and counter terrorism. A Joint Declaration was also inked between Uzbekistan and Pakistan. According to which two sides agreed on a sustained dialogue to expand their bilateral ties. The declaration said the two leaders had friendly, substantive and constructive exchange of views during their meeting and reached common understanding on a wide range of issues to enhance relations in various fields of mutual interest.

Keeping in view the emerging trends in the sphere of geo-political and geo-strategic along with the increasing security concerns and looming threats of terrorism both countries agreed on coordination between their law enforcement and security agencies, under the framework of Intergovernmental Agreement, on cooperation in fight against international terrorism, inked earlier on March 6, 2005.

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They both also agreed to expand cooperation in transportation and transit traffic and stressed joint actions to promote regional projects for developing efficient and secure transport and transit corridors to provide shortest access to sea routes and world trade markets.

They both valued the importance of greater socio-economic integration and fostering of trade & commerce activities and agreed to hold regular meeting of Joint Commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation. The Uzbek leadership said cooperation with Pakistan was one of the important pillars of its foreign policy on cooperation with South Asian countries, while Pakistan noted that relations with Uzbekistan were a key element of Islamabad’s engagement with Central Asian states.

They both considered a constant political dialogue must for better understanding and agreed to continue bilateral political dialogue and consultations through official visits at to enhance mutual understanding on bilateral, regional and international issues. To boost bilateral trade, it was agreed to take joint measures to increase and diversify range and quantum of mutual trade. The need for developing long-term and mutually beneficial partnership between the business entities through joint business activities and active participation of the companies and enterprises in exhibitions and fairs in Uzbekistan and Pakistan was also stressed.

Both countries reassured interest in expanding and strengthening long-term mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation through sustained dialogue and engagement at all levels. They showed their satisfaction in fields of science and technology, education, information and telecommunications technologies.

The two countries also stressed importance of further development of inter-parliamentary relations, enhancement of contacts and cooperation between the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan and the Parliament of Pakistan to strengthen people to people contacts. Both sided also agreed on enhanced cooperation between the foreign ministries of the two countries.

Pakistan expressed gratitude for setting up facility for Urdu Language and Literature at Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, which was one of the major institutions in Central Asia and CIS countries for training specialists in Urdu language.

Uzbekistan and Pakistan valued that common history and culture between the two states for centuries were providing a solid foundation for development of modern relations. In this regard, they also noted the activities of Uzbekistan-Pakistan friendship society, which regularly organises cultural and scientific events, promotes exchange of scientific and cultural delegations.

Uzbekistan and Pakistan were united in view that peace and harmony in Afghanistan was essential to security and stability in the region. Pakistan acknowledged the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and measures taken to mitigate consequences of Aral Sea disaster. They also underlined the importance of practical realisation of the initiative on formation of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia, proposed by President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in 1993, during the 48th Session of UN General Assembly.

Uzbekistan and Pakistan expressed readiness to further strengthen cooperation in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It was agreed Uzbekistan and Pakistan, together with the member States of the organisation will undertake efforts to complete at the earliest, the accession process of Pakistan to the SCO as a full member. Pakistan expressed appreciation for Uzbekistan’s support in this matter.

Pakistan also welcomed the forthcoming Presidency of Uzbekistan at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and expressed willingness to assist in every possible way in conducting the 43rd OIC Foreign Ministers meeting in Tashkent during the second half of 2016.

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Pakistan’s premier expressed gratitude to the Uzbekistan President and Uzbek people for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended during the visit. He also extended invitation to the president of Uzbekistan

Prime Minister of Pakistan during his visit of the display centre of the heavy machinery including trucks, cotton and rice harvesters and planters, tractors and buses said Pakistan desired to enhance bilateral trade with Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan and Uzbekistan should benefit from each other’s technologies and experiences to take the bilateral trade to the volume of $300 million.

Shavkat Mirziyayev, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan said the harvesters produced by Uzbekistan were of far lower cost than those in international market. He said, being an agricultural country, Pakistan would need this machinery, so the country should benefit from Uzbek experiences. He also showed the Prime Minister a harvester for third and fourth picking of cotton that picks the crop by differentiating whether it is ripen or not. He suggested that Uzbek trade minister could visit Pakistan to test the displayed machinery on ground there to prove their proficiency and powerfulness.

Tashkent, November 17 : Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif exchanging documents of MOU with the President of Uzbekistan Mr. Islam karimov at Kuksaroy Country Club. NNI Photo
Tashkent, November 17 : Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif exchanging documents of MOU with the President of Uzbekistan Mr. Islam karimov at Kuksaroy Country Club. NNI Photo

Uzbekistan and Pakistan also inked several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to strengthen bilateral cooperation, avoid double taxation and enhance collaboration in many areas.

The agreements/MOUs were signed between the Uzbek Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and to enhance bilateral trade.

He said Pakistan enjoyed a status of important state in the Muslim world as well as the region besides for its role on international issues. The Uzbek president said the country was also rich in huge human potential that can play a major role for development of the country.

Islam Karimov and Nawaz Sharif paid special attention to situation in Afghanistan, which plays important role for further developing cooperation. The sides noted that conflict in Afghanistan should be solved with peaceful political negotiations under aegis of the UN and truce.

Suggestions

i. Development of better, integrated and greater transportation facilities to achieve greater regional connectivity for further strengthening of trade and commerce, energy cooperation, joint ventures (JVs) and FDIs etc.
ii. There is an urgent need to develop a well-connected railways system between the two countries. Uzbek side is already reached to Jalalabad Afghanistan which would be used for greater Pakistan’s market access and products.
iii. Rapidly emerging geo-political, geo-strategic scenarios, proactive role and mushroom birth of non-state actors along with off-shots of ISIS and Talban, there is an urgent need of common security policy between the two countries for the safety and security of their investments, projects, economic ties, joint ventures and political association.
iv. Mutual investments (Uzbekistan-Pakistan) in the untapped resources. To begin with there is an urgent need to establish “Uzbekistan-Pakistan Investment Company”.
v. To increase the volume of bilateral trade from $300 million, “Swap of Currency” may have a multiplier effects.
vi. Promotion of mutual “Free Economic Zones” on preferential basis with lots of incentives.
vii. Direct Air Link would be one of the key elements for fostering of bilateral trade and business-to-business relations.
viii. Establishment of “Joint Uzbek-PAK Chamber of Commerce” may be instrumental for further strengthening of trade & and economic ties.
ix. Financial and Banking cooperation should be expedited
x. Establishment of Joint Economic Commission
xi. Better Port Facilities for Handling the Transit Trade
xii. Technological cooperation

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