Pakistan and Tajikistan are set to connect the South and Central Asia region through planned energy and economic corridors and they are expected to make some headway towards forging this strategic partnership during the visit of Tajik head of state to Islamabad this week, officials say.
Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon will arrive for a two-day visit on November 12, which is his sixth trip to Pakistan. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, other senior officials and a number of leading businessmen.
During his stay, the Tajik president will meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain.
The Central Asia-South Asia 1,000-megawatt power supply programme, called Casa-1,000 and an energy project among Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, will be a major area of cooperation, which will be taken up for discussion, officials say. The World Bank has already approved funding for this project.
Apart from this, they are pressing on with the Casa-2 electricity import scheme and a joint commission has been formed. Under this project, power transmission lines will pass through the northern areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan and Tajikistan are also working on putting in place transit trade arrangements between the two sides to connect the South and Central Asia region.
“During the Tajik president’s visit, they will discuss energy import, transit trade and linking the region through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will bring prosperity in the entire area,” said an official of the Tajikistan embassy while talking to The Express Tribune.
The Central Asian nation has already welcomed the economic corridor and expressed the desire to be part of this gigantic trade and investment project. “The two sides will also hold talks on this issue,” the official said.
Tajikistan is willing to sign a Pakistan-Afghanistan transit trade agreement, but Kabul wants to include India. Pakistan has expressed serious reservations about this demand and has no intention to give the go-ahead because of the diplomatic standoff with India.
The Tajik head of state’s trip is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two Muslim countries. It is of great significance, especially in the context of the shared desire to forge increased cooperation in politics, economy, energy, infrastructure development for rail and road links, air connectivity, social and human resource development, cultural, defence and security matters.
Pakistan was one of the first countries that established diplomatic ties with Tajikistan soon after its independence in 1991. Bilateral relations are based on mutual respect, shared interests and brotherhood and have been growing positively and steadily over the years.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2015.