Prospects for the Development of Regional Connectivity between Central and South Asia: Initiatives of Uzbekistan and Pakistan
China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted a video conference on “Prospects for the Development of Regional Connectivity between Central and South Asia: Initiatives of Uzbekistan and Pakistan” on Feb 22, 2022. This event was organized in collaboration with the Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies (ISRS) under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The distinguished speakers included: Akramjon Nematov, First Deputy Director of ISRS under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Amb. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, DG ISSI; Rustam Khuramov, Head of the ISRS Department under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan; Sherzod Faiziev, Head of Department International Institute of Central Asia; Dr. Talat Shabbir, Dir. CPSC-ISSI; Laziz Kudratov, First Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade, Uzbekistan; and Ms. Ume Farwa, Research Associate CPSC-ISSI.
Mr. Akramjon Nematov opened the forum with his welcome remarks saying that this conference is an effort to strengthen Pakistan-Uzbekistan relations and to take the bilateral cooperation forward and upward in terms of think-tank collaboration. He said this conference is meant to prepare for the upcoming visit by President of Uzbekistan to Pakistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Ambassador Chaudhry welcomed this timely initiative by ISRS. He touched upon the most pressing issues that the two countries are confronted with. He first contextualized Pak-Uzbek relations in the current developments and trends happening in international relations. He talked about the perils of US-China competition and the possibilities of a new cold war, the rise of protectionism, retreat from multilateralism, and the growing menace of xenophobia. He was of the view that Islamabad and Tashkent had great potential to navigate the common challenges in this present global scenario.
In the first session, Development of Regional Connectivity between Central and South Asia: Long-Term Interests of Uzbekistan and Pakistan, the speakers shared common perspective that both the countries are located at a critical crossroads of South and Central Asia for maximizing their long-term interests. Mr. Rustam Khuramov specially talked about the natural and human capital at Tashkent’s disposal that can facilitate it to become a conduit of regional connectivity. The second speaker, Dr. Talat Shabbir shed light on the dividends of regional integration and how Pakistan can serve as the pivot to this neo-liberal construct.
In the second session, Connectivity in Trade, Transport and Energy, Tourism and Issues of Maintaining Regional Security, Ms. Ume Farwa spoke at length on mutual initiatives that the countries took in the recent past. Engaging in common infrastructure projects to defence and multilateral cooperation in the Eurasian multilateral organisations, she maintained that employing the tools of historic and cultural diplomacy are equally important in order to fully tap the potential of the bilateral relations. The second speaker, Mr. laziz Kudratov gave a complete overview of agricultural cooperation between the two countries and how it can be expanded in other related spheres for the good of the two peoples.
In the closing remarks, Nematov Akramjon llkhomovich, First Deputy Director of ISRS under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Amb. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, DG ISSI, both expressed their delight to organizing the conference and interacting with each other at institutional level. They expressed optimism in the current positive upward trajectory of Islamabad-Tashkent relations and resolved to hold more such conferences together.