By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan
In his most recent interview the dynamic and visionary Dr Zubaydullo N. Zubaydov, Ambassador of Republic of Tajikistan spoke highly about the trust-worthy and strong bilateral relations between the two countries. He shared his in depth analysis on different important matters not confined only to ongoing energy cooperation/agreements, significance of trade and different strategies to further strengthening of its volumes and the last not the least, possible facilitation of Tajikistan to Pakistan to become member of SCO.
H.H. Dr Zubaydullo also evaluated the importance of socio-economic cooperation, geo-political understanding and bilateral diplomatic ties between the two countries. He elaborated his country’s strategic asset like water reservoirs point of view along with having joint mechanism to fight against terrorism, a giant enemy of humanity and our collective survival.
He stressed that Central Asia South Asia (CASA) 1000 power project has had full political support of US government and the World Bank. He said that inking a trilateral agreement (Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) is vital to further development of trade volumes between Pakistan and Tajikistan. He proudly revealed that the operation of a weekly direct flight from Islamabad to Dushanbe has alreday been started. He also talked about holding of a forum for Pakistani businessmen from 18-20 July 2010 in his country. He hoped that this kind of business connectivity would bring dividends in the near future.
The honorable ambassador shared that we must have a trilateral trade agreement between Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No doubt trade between Tajikistan and Pakistan has gathered momentum during the last two years but the main beneficiary has been Afghanistan. For example each month Pakistan exports around 50,000 tons of cement to Tajikistan. By the time the trucks arrive in Tajikistan the price of cement has become three times as much and the difference is being pocketed by the Afghan truckers. A trilateral agreement would put a stop to such profiteering. We require full support of the government of Pakistan to ink such an agreement. Currently, Tajikistan exports cotton, aluminium, fresh and dry fruits to Pakistan.
He said that he is happy to tell you that there is now a direct flight between Islamabad and Dushanbe which I am hopeful would boost trade and tourism. It operates once a week, on Saturday. A business forum of Pakistani businessmen at Dushanbe will take place from 18 to 20 July 2010. He hopes that the business community of Pakistan joins him in making this forum a success as it would provide them with a rare opportunity to directly interact with Tajik business community, without involving any third party.
He envisaged that Pakistan and Tajikistan are brotherly countries and have a common history. Both countries have good political, economic and trade ties. Pakistan has played an important role in restoring peace and political stability in Tajikistan. Two peace conferences were held in 1993 and 1994 at Islamabad during Pakistan People’s Party’s government. President of Tajikistan has charismatic personality with Immaculate Conception leadership qualities which has played a key role in ending our political uncertainty and put an end to low socio-economic conditions in the short span of one year. He institutionalized a comprehensive strategy of political reconciliation which has assisted in not only bringing peace to the country but also in bringing back all Tajik refugees who fled the country during civil war to the neighbouring countries of the reg
He once again assured that the CASS Power Project has the full backing of the US administration, World Bank and some other international donor agencies.
He told that Pakistan and Tajikistan have good co-ordination to counter terrorism, illegal trade of weapons and drugs. In a recent visit to Dushanbe Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik and his Tajik counterpart signed an agreement to further strengthen co-operation in a fruitful exchange of intelligence. Earlier, Chairman of state security of Tajikistan came to Pakistan and signed an agreement with his counterpart and other law enforcement agencies on security.
He explained that the SCO, till recently, had no mechanism to expand membership to other countries. However, in the last meeting held at Tashkent, a formula for membership was formulated that entails a process. Hopefully Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, India and Belarus will be declared members of this Organization in the coming meetings. Tajikistan and all the other six members have never opposed Pakistan’s membership to the SCO.
He successfully pleaded the water issue between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and said that it is the construction of Rogun Dam that actually began in 1998. Rogun, when completed, would be the largest hydro power project if all the former Soviet Republics are considered with a capacity to generate 4000 MW electricity and with an export potential of 2000 MW that would not only meet the power needs of Afghanistan and Pakistan but also generate foreign exchange for us. Uzbekistan, as the lower riparian country argues that if the dam is built it would affect the flow of water into Uzbek territory. Tajikistan has assured the Uzbek government that this will not happen after all we use no more than 6 percent of our water resources. Uzbekistan blocked entry of building materials into Tajikistan for five months. However, United Nations and notably Iran intervened. Iran has its own interest in ending the Uzbek blockade as some Iranian power companies are engaged in constructing water reservoirs in Tajikistan as well as constructing Sanguda Dam with a capacity of 3000 MW.