A former diplomat has advocated a strategic approach of aligning Pakistan’s interests with all Central Asian Republics (CARs) to benefit from the boundless opportunities offered by the region.
“Pakistanis should change misperception about CARs being backward. In fact, they are more advanced in terms of education, infrastructure, standard of life, gender rights and so on,” said Mohammad Khalid Khattak in a lecture on “Geo-politics and Geo-economic situation in Central Asia and their relations with Pakistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday said a press release.
“Pakistanis must not think about exporting its brand of Islam there” the former ambassador to Russia said.
He, however, cautioned policymakers not to underestimate US strategic relevance in the region even after the post-2014 era, and argued that US would still be a global super power.
He defined Central Asia as a region in transition, where most of the states got independence without any struggle but also shared CARs’ post-2014 concerns, saying they fear a spread of fundamentalism in the region.
He said that after the fall of communism, NATO and western allies are now containing Russian influence in the region but Russia is also reviewing its approach towards Central Asia.
“Proposing a single currency, customs, centralized security apparatus and joint defence, Putin has presented the idea of Eurasian Union which will consist of Russia, Belorussia, Central Asian republics, Armenia minus Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan,” he added.
According to him, CARs are enthusiastic about this and falling back on China to avoid any implications. He said that China is increasingly playing the role of a balancing power with a commercial and economical posture without any political grand design. However, he also mentioned that China wants stability in the region to avoid any instability in its Muslim dominated Xinjiang region.
He also discussed that after China, Turkey is the biggest player in the region has invested a staggering sum of around $8 billion, in infrastructure, energy, trade and construction in the region. Turkey is also active in cultural exchanges benefiting from common culture and language.
He said that Pakistan can help central Asia with its banking sector that it holds importance and trade corridor for the region along with Afghanistan adding that Iran has aligned its interests with Russia whereas India is benefiting by partnering with both Russia and west. He said that great game in Central Asia is still going on where Pakistan needs to take wise decisions by adopting a friendly approach to all central Asian nations.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2013.