INTERVIEW WITH THE ZUBAYDOV ZUBAYDULLO NAJOTOVICH HONORABLE AMBASSADOR OF TAJIKISTAN IN PAKISTAN

Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

1. What is the significance of recent Dushanbe summit?

At a four-nation security summit recently held the Presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Tajikistan agreed to intensify fight against drug trafficking in the region. All the four leaders showed their commitments towards the socio-economic growth of the region.

2. What are the salient features of its joint statement?

They all identified he importance of strengthening mutually beneficial economic cooperation as an important component of efforts for the consolidation of mutual ties, they also agreed to support measures at the national and international levels for the promotion of socio-economic rehabilitation and development of the region.

The four leaders agreed to build a favorable investment climate in their respective countries, with a marked focus on direct linkages among the business communities. They stressed the need for increase in foreign investment flows and the implementation of projects of hydropower, construction of transmission lines and development of transport infrastructure, in an extremely energy deficient neighborhood, Pakistan.

The leaders have also asked the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to provide assistance in implementation of economic projects in the region. Presidents Emomali Rahmon, Asif Ali Zardari, Hamid Karzai and Dmitry Medvedev expressed concern over an increase in narcotics trade, terming it one of the main sources of financing for militancy. They called upon the international community to take “additional steps for a decisive fight against the narco-threat. They all agreed to have regional solutions for regional problems. The four states have expressed enthusiasm to cooperate in fighting against all threats and challenges like terrorism and all its manifestations: separatism, extremism and organized crime.

Tajikistann Ambassador in Pakistan

3. What is the outcome of recent Pak-Tajik Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC)?

Both countries decided to establish Joint Business Forum between the business communities of both countries. Tajik Government invited businessmen from Pakistan to participate in exhibition in Dushanbe during late part of this year. Both sides agreed to sign the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) 2009.

Tajikistan side offered warehouse facility to Pakistan at Panji Poyon and requested for similar facility for Tajik business community at Gwadar Port. Both sides agreed to implement on fast track the Project Electricity transmission line between Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, (CASA 1000).

The government of Pakistan offered training facilities to Tajik geo-scientists and technicians in the field of instrumental analysis in geo-science. Pakistan also offered 10 seats for Tajik students in the field of Information Technology at National University of Modern languages. Pakistan side also informed that National University of Science and Technology (NUST) of Pakistan is exploring the possibility and formulation of tangible projects for enhancement of co-operation with Tajikistan.

Both governments agreed to the proposal to transport arrangements between the two countries through an agreement. The agreement is expected to be finalized soon. To activate air transport both sides agreed to hold early talks in the last week of August, 2009 in Dushanbe for conclusion of a fresh air services agreement.

4. Would you please give us the details of different MOUs discussed during the recent Pak-Tajik Joint Economic Commission (JEC)?

Both countries agreed for early finalization of agreements included MoU on cooperation in field of pubic health, MoU on pharmaceutical, cultural exchange programmes (CEP) for next two years 2010-2012, MoU for co-operation in the field of sports, MoU on expansion of cooperation in the field of agriculture and food industry and establishment of a working group on livestock. Both sides have agreed to enhance cooperation between national tourism bodies, respective enterprises and associations of both countries. Both sides also agreed for the formation of working group that will promote investments for hotel and tourism in Pakistan.

In order to implement the MoU signed between the two countries on combating against narcotics, both sides agreed to make arrangements of posting of drug liaison offices in their respective embassies for quick information sharing within one month.

5. Do you like your stay in Pakistan and furthermore do you like native culture, society and people of Pakistan?

I feel like at home in Pakistan. It is a beautiful country with rich heritage and culture. People are brave, tolerant, cooperative and above all open-minded. I respect their social values which is dynamic also.

6. What are your future plans to further strengthen the bilateral relations and cultural ties between the two countries in the days to come?

Pakistan is our brotherly Muslim country. We share many cultural and societal similarities. The strength of cultural lies in our divine faith. Closed cultural ties make bridges of better understandings, trust, harmony, peace and above all equality. It promotes connectivity, decency, tolerance, and guarantees good bilateral diplomatic relations. Visit of dynasty and free interaction of dynamics, religious scholars, exchange of business and cultural tours and above all student exchange programs may be vital to enhance our cultural ties in the days to come.

7. What are your suggestions to improve our socio-economic relations and volumes of trade in the days to come?

We are living in the age of globalization which is the century of economics too. Self-reliance and financial independency assures your sovereignty, dignity and stability.

Both sides have expressed their desire to further enhance bilateral ties to the mutual benefit of both countries. We have many agreements and MOUs which are contributing a lot in enhancing and developing the economic relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan. Tajikistan is the nearest Central Asian Estate to Pakistan but the trade between the two countries is not up to the mark.
More information sharing, business and investment friendly policies, infrastructure facilitation, joint ventures, greater private companies’ participation of both the countries and above all free trade agreement would be instrumental to enhance the trade volumes between the two countries in the future.

8. Do we extend our cooperation in the fields of energy and communication?

Easy and smooth of energy supply has become mantra of every government around the globe. The ministers of four countries, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan recently signed a resolution to proceed further with the Central Asia/South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM) project envisaging transmission of 1,300 MW from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan; but further commitment to the project will be linked to the availability of financing.

9. What are the main characteristics of this project?

The Casa 1000 MW power transmission project comprises developing, designing, procuring, financing, constructing and operating electricity transmission lines and related facilities to enable the trade of electricity among the four countries. It was estimated that the project would ensure a supply of 5.5 billion units of electricity per year to Pakistan from Sangtuda, Rogun, Talimardjan and Kambarata hydropower stations. Pakistan would bear the cost of all the line losses in the transmission system. Two routes have been identified for the project. One route will run through Afghanistan’s Kunduz province, Salang Pass and Jalalabad before reaching Peshawar and would cost 4.4 cents per unit. The transmission line through this route would stretch 170km in Tajikistan, 430km in Afghanistan and 50km in Pakistan.

10. Would you please elaborate the multiplier effects of this mega project?

Socio-economic benefits are huge which are given below as:
(a) The successful project may decrease the high ratios of the energy shortage in the country
(b) Pakistan is to invest some $ 600 million while the remaining amount will be paid by Afghanistan.
(c) Tariff of the imported electricity will stand at 6 cents to 8 cents per kWh as compared to the tariff of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) that is 12 cents to 14 cents/kWh.
(d) It will foster regional electricity market and brings together countries of Central and South Asia and also opened new vistas of trade and energy among energy rich and energy deficit countries.
So, chances are bright and scope is very vast. We are moving in a right direction. Public-private cooperation and collaboration would be mutual beneficial to both the countries.

11. Would you please tell us the different areas of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries?

Both sides agreed to cooperate in other fields including insurance, investment and industry, air transport, banking and financial sectors, agriculture and food industry, transport and construction of roads, science and technology, education, health, tourism and culture on mutual equality.

12. Do we have joint ventures and furthermore what are the potential areas/sector or fields of Joint ventures?

Tajikistan and Pakistan could join hands in the fields of textiles, mining, agriculture, poultry, medicines, vaccine for animals, packed food and the last not the least confectionary.

13. In which areas, do you think Pakistan can be useful/helpful?

We requested Pakistan to cooperate in the field of cotton, textile and agriculture.

14. What is new in the field of Air Communication link and establishment of Pakistani in your country?

Pakistan wanted to establish air links and open branch of National Bank of Pakistan and HBL in Dushanbe. The Tajik President assured his full support for all the proposals.

15. What are the potential areas of joint ventures between the two countries?

Textile, cement industry and engineering sectors are the potential areas of joint ventures between the two countries. Government of Pakistan has also pledged its technical and political assistance to Tajikistan in joining WTO.

16. What is the prospect of cooperation in agricultural sector especially in cotton between the two countries?

Tajikistan is an agriculture-based country, and its 73 per cent population is attached with this sector. Cotton is a major crop of Tajikistan and provides livelihood to thousands of people. Tajikistan’s business community is fervent to join hands with the Pakistani textile exporters and this approach would be beneficial for both the countries.

17. What are the investment opportunities for Pakistani investors/businessmen?

Opportunities are vast and sky is limit for interested Pakistani businessmen to invest in Tajikistan in the fields of gems and electricity as both sectors has a lot of potential for earnings. Tajikistan has special law of investment which facilitates and gives incentives for foreign investment in the country.

18. What are the specialties of Pak-Tajikistan trade?

Pakistan’s major imports from Tajikistan are cotton, which accounted for 95 percent of its imports from Tajikistan. Fruits, vegetables and machinery are the main items of imports. Pakistan exported textile apparels, leather products and animal & vegetable fats to Tajikistan. Tajikistan’s major imports are textile, aluminum, made-ups, pharmaceutical products, edible oils, milling products, sugar, beverages, oil, inorganic chemicals, perfumes, cosmetics, soaps etc.

19. Tajikistan could be an energy and trade corridor for Pakistan: your thoughts please?

Tajikistan can also serve as an energy and trade corridor to Pakistan, Central Asian States and other parts of the world.

20. What are the socio-economic prospects of Tajikistan for 2009?

The major macro-economy indicators are given below as:
In 2007 GDP was 11.87 US$ billions. GNP was 1600 US dollar. Inflation was 9.8%. Unemployment rate was 12% and investment was 13.4%. Agriculture remained 23%. Service sector participated 45.8% and industrial sector contributed 30.6% in year 2007. We hope that macro-economy would be on right track in the days to come.

21. What is the significance of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)?

Tajikistan and Pakistan want the ECO to become a coherent, effective and seamless organization. Membership of our countries in the regional economic organization gives broader opportunities in various spheres of cooperation and integration. Participation in ECO activities opens new prospective for mutually beneficial interaction and bringing our nations closer. Such cooperation creates interdependencies and synergies, especially in the areas of energy security, transportation linkages and trade. Tajikistan has greater bilateral trade and commerce ties with Iran and Turkey but we hope with the passage of time the bilateral socio-economic ties with Pakistan would be greater in the days to come.

22. What is the geo-political and geo-strategic importance of SCO to you?

Tajikistan is an important member country of the SCO. It is always ready to extend cooperation in every possible field. During the recent SCO summit Tajikistan and Pakistan vowed to expand cooperation in energy sector. President Emomali Rahman, reviewed the relations between the two countries spanning over a decade and stressed the need to enhance them into more meaningful ties. Both the leaders discussed the regional situation, particularly the threat by extremists and terrorists and the ways to counter it through increased cooperation. He apprised President Zardari about the ongoing fight in Pakistan for the elimination of terrorists from the country. Tajik President appreciated Pakistan for bravely facing the challenges, despite serious threats. He said both the countries could have increased cooperation to counter terrorism.

23. How you rate bilateral relations between the two countries?

I am pleased to say that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was among those first states that recognized Tajikistan as an independent country. Official diplomatic relations between two countries were established in 1992. The Tajik first official delegation visited Pakistan the same period. We share spirits of mutual respect, regional harmony, cooperation and collaboration between us. We hope that bilateral relations would be further strengthened in the days to come.

24. What are socio-economic priorities of your national government?

Today the priority in the national economy is investing into completion of the construction of the Rogun and two Sangtudin hydro power stations as well as development of the light industry, metal and stone mining and processing, complex ore mining, cotton and other agricultural product processing. New objects of social significance hospitals, schools, kindergartens, libraries were constructed these last years. Due to the economic reforms indicators of the macro economic growth increased four times in comparison with the year of 2001. According to the CIS International Statistics Committee investment growth in the key branches of the economy in Tajikistan in the years 2008-2009 comprised 77% to the year 2007. Today 53 investment projects in such areas as education, health care, agriculture, water supply and infrastructure with the volume of almost 1.5 billion US dollars are implemented in Tajikistan.

25. What are the main areas of national development of Tajikistan?

These may be summarized as follows:

a) To put four aggregates of Sangtuda-I hydro power station into operation
b) To reconcile the construction of the Rogun hydro power station
c) To put lines of power transmission “Lolazor-Khatlon” into operation
d) To bring to the end construction of the international highways which connect Tajikistan with Pakistan, China and other countries
e) completion of the automobile tunnel “Shar-Shar” connecting the Silk Road
f) Construction of four bridges between Tajikistan and Afghanistan which also connect Tajikistan with Pakistan
g) To continue development of the bilateral relations between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

26. What is your message to people of Pakistan?

We hope within next two years electricity will be successfully transmitted from Tajikistan. We also hope that business community of Pakistan should use Afghanistan and Tajikistan as a bridge between Central Asian countries. My message is love for people of Pakistan. We wish great success in achieving their desired socio-economic goals. We wish a strong Pakistan and brighter future for all Pakistanis.

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