Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan Yerzhan Kistafin says Pakistan and Kazakhstan have been enjoying exemplary diplomatic relations which can extend to new areas of cooperation.
In an exclusive interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan, he said both countries have robust political dialogue that also needs to reflect in bilateral trade and commercial ties.
The ambassador said the last session of Pak-Kazakh Inter-Governmental Commission was held in Islamabad in February last year in which it was agreed to establish three working groups on economic cooperation, energy cooperation and cooperation in regional connectivity.
He said we also need to focus on our transport and logistics issues as well as economic cooperation. State agencies of both countries should work together to address issues and challenges in our bilateral economic cooperation.
Yerzhan Kistafin said he has held fruitful meetings with representatives of Pakistani business community including those of FPCCI to explore the potential of increasing bilateral trade.
Referring to situation in Afghanistan, the Kazakh ambassador said Kazakhstan is the biggest landlocked country in the world and we understand the importance of regional connectivity. He said Afghanistan could be the most beneficial country if trade increases between Pakistan and Kazakhstan though it. He said Afghanistan can serve as a regional transit hub between Central and South Asia if peace and stability comes in the country.
Elaborating further, the ambassador said special representative of Kazakhstan visited Kabul recently and held talks with current government in Afghanistan. He said we discussed restoring our trade and economic cooperation with Afghanistan for the mutual benefit of both the countries. He warned that if stability did not come to Afghanistan, it would have wider regional implications.
On trade between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, Yerzhan Kistafin informed that bilateral trade volume stood at 45 million us dollars last year. He said there is a need to establish cooperation between custom services of both Pakistan and Kazakhstan to remove hiccups in trade.
The Kazakh ambassador said apart from Afghanistan there are also other routes for trade between the two countries. He said Karakorum Highway is the shortest route to Central Asia from Pakistan, but due to harsh climate in winter it is impractical to use.
Another option, he said, is the route of Khunjerab Pass through which trade supplies can reach to Western parts of Kazakhstan.
He said Kazakhs consider Pakistan a regional power and bolstering cooperation between the two countries will be helpful for the whole central Asian region.
When asked about the rich hydro carbon reserves of Kazakhstan and possible cooperation with Pakistan in this sector, the Kazakh ambassador said the joint energy group on cooperation is working on it and exploring new ways.
He said investment by Kazakh investors into Pakistan is also being considered. He said Pakistan is a very promising market due to its large population and it is attractive to foreign investors.
Referring to Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he said last month summit of SCO countries was held in Dushanbe in which Kazakh President emphasized on wider regional cooperation. He said cooperation with Pakistan can help us achieve regional connectivity.
Regarding security cooperation between Islamabad and Astana, he said ministries of defense of both countries enjoy strong ties. Cooperation between defense universities of both countries as well as in other areas is also increasing.
Terming terrorism as a challenging threat, the Kazakh ambassador said it is difficult to address the issue alone and needs a collective approach. In that area, SCO can help us a lot in stemming this menace through joint collaboration.
Pointing to increased potential of people to people cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed bilateral agenda and economic cooperation during meeting with Kazakhstan President in Dushanbe. He said our nations have been cooperating for centuries but nowadays there is less information about the culture and lifestyle of the people of both countries. He said we need to enhance awareness about each other.
The Kazakh ambassador said three pillars to this effect are increasing direct ties between universities of both countries, stimulating direct ties between think tanks of the two countries, and enhancing cooperation between mass media of the two countries for exchange of information. Exchange of TV programs can enhance cultural cooperation between the two countries to get to know each other’s traditions, festivals and cultures. He said invitation of artists and troupes can also help connect the two nations.
Yerzhan Kistafin said Kazakhstan and Pakistan are enhancing cooperation in the area of science and technology. He said we have established direct communication between Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and Kazakh British Technical University. They are planning to exchange students and scholars.
Similarly, he said, Pakistan’s National University of Modern Languages and Kazakh National University are working together on different projects relating to exchange of students and learning each other’s language. He said Urdu and Kazakh language have many similar words, as both originated from Turkic language. He said many Pakistani students are already studying in Kazakh medical universities.
The Kazakh ambassador proposed to start direct flights between Pakistan and Kazakhstan to enhance business, academic and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” was hosted by renowned journalist and columnist Javed Siddiq while Producer of the program was Saeed Ahmad and Executive Producer Abdul Raoof Khan.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” is being broadcast from News and Current Affairs Channel and FM 101 networks of Radio Pakistan every Saturday at 1815 hrs.
The show is also available on Radio Pakistan’s official website “www.radio.gov.pk”, Social Media Platforms and Radio Pakistan’s Podcast “podcast.radio.gov.pk”