- Terms regional connectivity of immense importance for developing bilateral ties
- Expresses hope that business community of both the countries will come forward to further
strengthen existing relationship
- Adds recently held referendum will strengthen the role of Parliament in Kazakhstan
Exclusive Interview By Riaz Ahmad Malik Hassan Aftab
Kazakhstan is the land of opportunities which enjoys the most friendly investment environment thereby, Pakistani business community should come forward to grasp this golden opportunity to develop its businesses there.
This was stated by Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan His Excellency Yerzhan Kistafin during an exclusive interview for Daily National Herald Tribune ( NHT) here at the Embassy in Islamabad.
The Ambassador said that this year we celebrated 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan and he will certainly say to his Pakistan friends and brothers to actively participate in developing cooperation between the two great states. Nothing is impossible we can do so many things. We consider Pakistan as an important regional country, if we unite our efforts we can, not only serve each other but the entire region also. We should take the responsibility for the future of our region. We should develop our cooperation to explore each and every idea of collaboration and that he believes that through our joint efforts we can make our region a prosperous one.
He added that Kazakhstan represents half of the Central Asian economy. It attracted about one hundred and eighty billion dollars during last three decades which is more than 70% of all the foreign direct investment made in Central Asian Region.
Apart from government to government we have two main dimensions the first one is B2B that is why it is believed that we should also reactivate our Bilateral Business Council and I hope Insha Allah this month or next month we will hold the very first session of our Bilateral Business Council inviting regional representatives from regional chambers of commerce. We also want to invite people from industrial associations such as PPMA, APTMA, Association of Sports Goods Manufacturers etc. So I believe such kind of interaction can help us in terms of boosting interaction among our business communities. The other dimension, which is extremely important is about people to people contacts in terms of strengthening ties at cultural level. We are in favour of developing cooperation between our Universities, between our youth organizations, I mean we will be focused for the next few years on these dimensions and I hope that this kind of measures will help us finally to bring our great brotherly nations to closer to each other.
To a question that at the moment how many Pakistani students are getting education in Kazakhstan, the envoy said that last year there were five hundred students but this year eight hundred applications have been received. It means that number of young people from Pakistan who are willing to study in our country is growing and I hope that this number will increase by the passage of time in the years to come.
To another question about the significance of regional connectivity, Mr. Ambassador said that today the regional connectivity is the name of the game and when it comes to the developing cooperation between Kazakhstan and Pakistan if we want to deliver goods between our countries we have to cross at least three countries , Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan, so it means that if want to give boost to our bilateral trade at least we have to create friendly environment at the regional level, without regional cooperation it would be difficult to develop our bilateral trade. It is a well known fact that Afghanistan can serve as a regional transit hub, without Afghanistan of course we can develop our trade but it will be much more difficult. That is why I believe that we should involve our brothers, our partners in the region to develop our regional connectivity. We have to establish a well developed regional infrastructure , we have to do so many things together at the final go of all this effort we are making to achieve the success .
To another question about the importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor in enhancing the Kazakhstan-Pakistan relationship, the envoy said CPEC is an integral part of the One Belt, One Road Initative and that Kazakhstan is also very important part of this initiative. Now a days, China delivers so many things via Kazakhstan to Europe and the delivery times takes about two weeks as compared to forty or fifty days by sea. And CPEC is another very part of this project so I believe that if we join our infrastructural potential, if we join our infrastructural projects definitely it could be a win, win situation for all the countries of the region. I mean if we establish a well-developed infrastructure in the region, it means that we will be able to give boost to our trade , it means that our people will be able to travel more easily from one country to another .Today for example unfortunately, when it comes to air links between Kazakhstan-Pakistan we do not have direct flights yet but I hope that till this summer we will be able to resolve this issue finally. But for example if I want to travel to Kazakhstan from Islamabad I have to travel via Dubai, via Istanbul , it means that we have to spend at least three to five hours of travel then you have to wait for another flight for at least for ten hours, I means its a wasting of time, for business people it is not favourable that is why our country is in favour of establishing a well developed infrastructure and in this connection CPEC can play a vital role , I believe CPEC is a very important part of our infrastructure in the region and it can contribute greater in terms of strengthening ties among the countries of our region.
When asked about the recently held referendum in Kazakhstan, he replied that it was aimed at amendments to its constitution on the initiative of its President. The President from the very beginning when he was elected back in 2019, was very clear about his agenda, he was in favour of democratization of our country, for further liberalization of our political system. So this referendum is another step towards the fulfilment of his commitment to further democratization of our society. The main idea of this referendum was to strengthen the role of the Parliament in Kazakhstan, in order to strengthening the role of the local representative bodies, local legislative bodies. He has also limited his own powers. Now no close relative of the President can be the part of our government. The main idea was to avoid any conflict of interests, to lower the corruption rate and to make the President unable to appoint his family members as part of our government. More over it was decided to have additional amendments on the Commissioner of Human Rights. Now our Commissioner on Human Rights has a constitutional status. It means the Commissioner today is equal to other State bodies such as Prosecutor , Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior etc. So the main idea was to improve the human rights situation in our country, to have a balanced approach in terms of developing different branches of our government , I mean today the role of the Parliament will be key in terms of moving further our political agenda. Another important development was to make it easier to establish political parties , now it is much easier to establish political parties and probably during next parliamentary election we will have more parties to participate in the contest.