Pakistan rightly focusing on CARs (Pakistan Observer)

MINISTER for Commerce Khurram Dastgir has expressed resolve of the Government to establish trade routes to Central Asian Re publics (CARs) through Afghanistan and China for boosting trade and economic ties with these countries. Talking to Kyrgyz Ambassador Kubanychbek Tokotoraev in Islamabad, he reiterated that Pakistan would welcome inclusion of more Central Asian states in transit trade agreement.

In yet another related development, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues and relevant officials, has left on a three day visit to Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan during which bilateral agreements and MoUs would be signed for strengthening cooperation with these countries. His visit comes following President Mamnoon Hussains successful visit to Azerbaijan, which was result oriented in many ways. All this shows Pakistans renewed but right focus on establishing deeper and multidimensional relationship with Central Asian states. In fact, Pakistan had made plans to boost cooperative ties with these countries soon after their emergence as independent states but the desired progress could not be made partly because of unending crisis in Afghanistan and partly because of lack of consistency and follow up on our part.

Now that Pakistan has embarked upon a gigantic project of creating Economic Corridor in collaboration with China, its benefits would remain somewhat elusive if Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics are not brought into the loop. There are no two opinions that Gwadar Port can be the port of first choice for these States because of proximity factor and access to other regions; but unfortunately, we have not been able to make the port fully functional and connect it with rest of the country and neighbouring countries through a reliable road and rail network. In the new scheme of things, this aspect has been taken care of and we hope that this would help realize the real potential of cooperation with our Central Asian neighbours.

In our view, TAPI could prove to be one of the most critical and vital economic link with the region and the Government should prioritize this project also because of the crippling energy shortages.

Similarly, it is also time to implement much-talkedabout projects for import of electricity from these countries. Pending realization of these projects, the two sides can work on other fronts to promote trade and economic ties through enhanced visits, people to people contacts, trade fairs, direct flights and liberalization of visa regimes.