PESHAWAR -- Central Asian countries highly value Pakistan's ability to contribute to regional peace and economic development, says Tajik Ambassador to Pakistan Ismatullo Nasredin.
Tajikistan fully supports Islamabad's efforts to restore peace in Afghanistan, Nasredin said on June 14, adding that the only long-term solution is through the political process.
Pakistan is a powerful state within the Islamic world and the Central Asian republics, especially Tajikistan, are aware of this reality, he said.
Clashing interests over Afghanistan harmed the relations of regional states during the 1990s, but now they are on the same page regarding a regional approach to the Afghan conflict, he said.
"A political settlement in Afghanistan with a regional approach is the only solution to the crisis," Nasredin said.
"Pakistan's sacrifices for regional peace, especially in resolving the Afghan imbroglio, are matchless," he added.
A new phase in relations
Pakistani-Tajik ties are entering a new phase, keeping in view the communication links as well as the economic and energy needs of both countries, Nasredin said.
Electricity will be supplied to Pakistan under the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), which is expected to be fully operational by 2020.
The $1.2 billion project under construction will allow for the export of surplus hydro-electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The groundbreaking of the project took place on May 12, 2016.
"The surplus 1,300MW of energy from Tajikistan in the summer can meet Pakistan's needs, and the same electricity can be transferred back to Tajikistan in the winter to meet our needs," he said, referring to Pakistan's decision last December to export 1,000MW of electricity to Tajikistan under a reverse flow clause in the original purchase agreement.
Meanwhile, Tajikistan is using Pakistani ports, Nasredin said, adding that he hopes that the annual trade volume of $62 million between the two countries will grow to $100 million.
Tajikistan is keen on joining the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) among Kazakhstan, Pakistan, China and Kyrgyzstan, the ambassador said.
The QTTA link will facilitate connecting Southeast Asia to Europe via Central Asia, he said.
Nasredin stressed the need for enhanced academic ties between the two countries while speaking at the University of Peshawar on June 14.
After his lecture on "Pak-Tajik Relations: Enhancing Academic Institutional Links," Tajik and Pakistani officials signed a draft memorandum of understanding between the Strategic Research Centre under the President of Tajikistan and the Area Study Centre of the University of Peshawar.
Pakistan was considered a cultural extension of Central Asia in the past, and now Central Asia holds the future of Pakistan, particularly as construction of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) proceeds, said Area Study Centre Director Dr. Shabbir Khan.
Pakistan attaches great significance to its relations with Central Asia, he said.
"There are encouraging signs of growing political, strategic and economic relations between Pakistan and Central Asia," Khan said.