TASHKENT, Uzbekistan: The Chairman of Uzbekistan Senate’s Foreign Policy Committee Sodiq Solihovich Safoyev said that Gwadar Port was an Uzbek ambition to reach at, and stressed capitalizing potential of Pak-Uzbek bilateral relationship.
In an exclusive interview with Dispatch New Desk (DND) news agency Chief Editor Agha Iqrar Haroon in Tashkent, Sodiq Safoyev said that Pakistan and Uzbekistan were regional allies, and they had enormous opportunities to cooperate in the fields of economy, culture and security.
“Cooperation with Pakistan is one of the highest priorities of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy,” Sodiq Safoyev said.
Sodiq Safoyev, who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan from March 2003 to February 2005, said that though Pak-Uzbek bilateral relationship had great potential to flourish and in this regard, several bilateral meetings took place between the top leadership of both the Countries in the past.
However, he added, certain reasons such as unavailability of direct access to each other was causing hurdles in strengthening of bilateral cooperation.
“The potential of Pakistan-Uzbekistan bilateral relationship is yet to be capitalized,” he said.
The Uzbek Senate’s Foreign Policy Committee Chairman said that opening and development of trade routes between Pakistan and Uzbekistan would help facilitating the linkages between these two potentially very promising markets.
Sodiq Solihovich Safoyev said that multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could help Uzbekistan to reach World Market via sea.
“We are pleased to hear that CPEC, connecting China with Pakistan, has begun functioning this year,” Sodiq Safoyev said.
Sodiq Safoyev said that Tashkent had already been working with Beijing to build a direct rail link between Uzbekistan and China, adding that CPEC would open up new opportunity for connecting us.
“Since Uzbekistan is a land-locked Country; therefore seaport like Gwadar would help Uzbekistan to have access to the World Market,” he noted.
Sodiq Safoyev said that in the future, Gwadar would be the closest port for Uzbekistan and it was one of the ambitions of Uzbekistan to get access to Gwadar port.
In reply to a question regarding Parliamentary relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, Sodiq Safoyev said that parliamentarians could play a very constructive role in not only boosting Pak-Uzbek cooperation but also fulfilling Tashkent’s ambition to have access to Gwadar port.
The Uzbek Senate’s Foreign Policy Committee Chairman said that he visited Islamabad in August 2016 and during talks with Pakistani Parliamentarians, both sides agreed that in contemporary world, bilateral relations couldn’t be limited only to government-to-government contacts.
“It is not the monopoly of their ministers of foreign affairs,” he said.
Sodiq Safoyev said that without corporating the role of Parliamentarian diplomacy, the bilateral relationship would not have a full Character.
“Parliamentarian contacts provide kind of a depths to their relationship,” Sodiq Safoyev was of the view.
Firstly, we required creating a legislative framework of our contacts to harmonize our laws and to make business-friendly environment, he said adding that it would create some incentives for investors and businessmen to trade and create joint ventures.
Secondly, it’s very important for region to region contacts. Lastly, Parliaments in most countries were playing more active role in controlling the governments for the sake of people’s desires and hopes, and controlling the implementation of international laws.
“I think Parliamentarians can do a lot for activating our bilateral relationships in all dimensions,” Sodiq Safoyev said.
In reply to a question about prospects for Pak-Uzbek ties in next decade, Sodiq Safoyev said that since both Pakistan and Uzbekistan shared common desires of strengthening of bilateral cooperation, both the countries needed to pursue common goals.
“We are living in a very challenging era as a lot of uncertainty and unexpected events are happening throughout the world. It is very difficult for anyone to make long-term or medium-term prognosis but yet there are certain fundamentals which cannot be avoided,” he said.
Sodiq Safoyev said that both Pakistan and Uzbekistan wanted to cooperate, and they were so close to each other historically, ideologically and by aspirations of their people.
Sodiq Safoyev said that Pakistani people wanted to visit Bukhara and Samarkand, and at the same time Uzbek people always dreamt to visit Pakistan and had an access to their brothers over there.
For this, he added, we required to do three things. Firstly, we needed security in our countries and region as its’ fundamental for our cooperation.
“Unless we are at peace situation in the region, all the talks about our wonder projects will be mere proclamation rather than pragmatic plans,” Sodiq Safoyev said.
Sodiq Solihovich Safoyev, who is also a former Special Advisor of Uzbek President on Afghanistan, said that we all should have struggled for security and eradicating transnational threats like terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, organized crime etc etc.
Secondly, he said, we needed direct linkages and development of transport corridors for connecting us.
“We need peace in Afghanistan which will allow us to build up railroads and pipelines which will bring energy to Pakistan and Pakistani goods to Central Asian Countries,” said.
Sodiq Safoyev further said that in a bid to intensify Pakistan-Uzbekistan relations, both the Countries should also have started exploring common Islamic heritage of great philosophers and thinkers who used to live in these two Countries.