Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan see host of new co-operation opportunities

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

Kyrgyz Ambassador to Pakistan Erik Beishembiev speaks to Pakistani specialists on Central Asia at the University of Peshawar June 12. [Zahir Shah Sherazi]

Kyrgyz Ambassador to Pakistan Erik Beishembiev speaks to Pakistani specialists on Central Asia at the University of Peshawar June 12. [Zahir Shah Sherazi]

PESHAWAR -- Ties between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan "are on the rise," according to Kyrgyz Ambassador to Pakistan Erik Beishembiev.

"We highly value Pakistani sacrifices for peace and are in close co-operation on the security and military fronts as well besides trade and economic activity," Beishembiev said in an interview June 12 at the University of Peshawar.

Having Kyrgyz security and military officers undergo training at Pakistani institutions on counter-terrorism, English and peacekeeping manifests Kyrgyz resolve for peace, he said.

Such training also demonstrates joint efforts by Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan for a peaceful South and Central Asia, he added.

"Centuries-old historic relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan are on the rise after the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, and they are further being cemented through economic and educational activities," he said.

Kyrgyzstan could be a gateway for Pakistani traders to reach the European and Central Asian markets as it provides the shortest possible transit route -- taking almost half the time that shipping by sea requires, he added.

Discussions of rail link

Negotiations on a multi-national railway passing through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are also under way, and its completion would mean a route shorter by 1,000km from East Asia to the Middle East and southern Europe, he said. Delivery times for goods would shrink by seven to eight days, which "would also be of great benefit to Pakistani trade".

Kyrgyzstan is interested in the development of short transportation links through its territory between Central Asia and Pakistan, with access to Gwadar and Karachi via railways and highways that workers are building, said the envoy.

While annual trade volume between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan is only $4 million (Rs. 624 million), it will gradually increase in the wake of the new economic activity, Beishembiev said.

"Both countries are rich in mineral resources and have highly skilled human resources" along with excellent opportunities for developing industry and agriculture as well as in "attracting foreign investments for joint production and supply of goods, including for export", the ambassador noted.

Pakistan has high demand for energy and Kyrgyzstan is rich in hydro-power, he said.

"Kyrgyzstan is a member of CASA-1000 (the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project), which is aimed at bringing surplus electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan during the summer to Pakistan through Afghanistan," Beishembiev said.

Completion of CASA-1000 is expected in 2021, according to a World Bank statement.

Higher education also is developing quickly in Kyrgyzstan, which had only 12 universities before independence in 1991, he said. Now it has 50, with more than 1,000 Pakistani students receiving a higher education in Kyrgyzstan, especially at medical universities.

Active co-operation is under way between the Kyrgyz government and the University of Peshawar (UP) regarding the establishment of a UP sub-campus in Bishkek, UP Vice Chancellor Dr. Muhammad Asif said at the event.

The centre will share expertise on pharmacy, biotechnology, chemical sciences and geology, he said.

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