Pak-Uzbek ties, a shared priority

Pakistan and Uzbekistan signed a $1 billion trade agreement during the recent meeting of the Pak-Uzbek Inter-governmental Commission (IGC) in Tashkent on Friday. According to the details, the latest trade deal would encourage the exchange of goods and services and will also bring ease to the trade and investment between the two nations.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan are brotherly Muslim countries that enjoyed cordial diplomatic, trade, economic, and cultural relations over the past four decades after Uzbekistan marked independence in 1991. Both nations have tremendous opportunities to build a common prosperous feature for their coming generations through cooperation in selective fields including trade and investment, energy supply, and enhanced connectivity between their countries.

Historically, Pakistan sees landlocked Uzbekistan as its important trade partner and always remained eager to build a multipurpose strategic partnership with Tashkent to fully grasp the potential of regional trade and development through mutual work and cooperation. Similarly, Uzbekistan’s pivot toward South Asia has deepened over the past years as Tashkent intends to reach Pakistani deep sea ports in Karachi and Gawadar to boost its trade with the Middle East and the rest of the world. Regional connectivity is a major avenue for bilateral cooperation between the two nations that can help facilitate each other trade and transportation of goods, promotion of tourism, and energy cooperation in the region. Presently, Pakistan and Uzbekistan along with Afghanistan are actively working on multiple trilateral connectivity and energy projects to establish a trade corridor to facilitate transit of the Central Asian goods to foreign destinations through Pakistani Seaports in the Arabian sea.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan are agricultural economies and their bilateral trade statistics were not encouraging in the past. The recent meeting of the Pakistan-Uzbekistan Inter-governmental Commission (IGC) mainly focused on bilateral economic cooperation in various fields including commerce and trade, banking, industries and production, investment, energy, oil expoliration and mining, transportation and communication, agriculture, tourism, and cultural development. There had been persistent efforts by both countries to encourage closer ties, as this cooperation is a need of both nations. Pakistan intends to boost its relations with CARs to maximize the dividends of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while for Tashkent Pakistan’s extensive road infrastructure and seaports significantly reduce the transportation costs and time of its trade meant to or from Europe and other destination nearly 50 percent as compared to Iran and Russian trade routes.

Previously, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan had signed a pact to construct a 783 kilometers long Trans Afghan Raillink worth $8 billion that will connect Peshawar with Termez via Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabal in the future. The feasibility study and preparatory work on the project have been completed and trio nations are in talks with the world bank group for the financing of the project to comprehend this lonhstanding dream of the regional countries.

In fact, the rail link project is crucial for regional mobility, and the promotion of trade and tourism among the participating nations. Meanwhile Tajikistan, Kazakhstan an other states also support this regional connectivity initiative. Although, there has been a strong will for broader economic cooperation between Pakistan and Uzbekistan that ever stalled by the increasing] conflict in Afghanistan. Presently, situations are highly fertile and concerned nations must implement their plans into reality, to ensure a better future for their people.