Pakistan-Uzbekistan Meeting On Bilateral Cooperation – OpEd


Pakistan and Uzbekistan are two brotherly nations that have had friendly relations since the independence of Uzbekistan from the Soviet Union in August, 1991. Both countries share historical, cultural, and religious ties. Pakistan was among the first countries that recognizes Uzbekistan after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, the two countries have made efforts to strengthen their ties, especially in the field of trade, agriculture, defense, and regional cooperation. 

In the recent past, there have been several high-level meetings between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, that have further strengthened the relations between the two brotherly countries. In 2018, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan visited Uzbekistan and held talks with the president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. During the visit, both leaders agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in trade, commerce, investment, and culture. 

Likewise, in 2021, the foreign minister of Uzbekistan visited Pakistan and meets his counterpart. The two sides discussed regional security and economic cooperation. Infrastructure projects were discussed that were to be used to connect central Asia and Pakistan. Transit trade has been the greatest desire of both countries to enhance the standard of life of the millions of people in the region.

On Feb 23, 2023, Pakistan’s foreign minister Ishaq Dar visited Uzbekistan where he met high-level officials. He attended the 8th meeting of the Uzbek-Pakistan inter-governmental trade, economic, and scientific-technical cooperation (IGC) that was held in Tashkent. Both counterparts agreed on enhancing bilateral cooperation in multiple fields. At the same time, Uzbekistan applauded Pakistan’s role in peace in the region. 

Pakistan and Uzbekistan have had diplomatic relations since 1992, but their economic and trade ties have been relatively limited. However, in recent years, both countries have taken steps to strengthen their economic and trade relations. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Uzbekistan increased from $18.2 million in 2018-19 to $91.2 million in 2019-20. Pakistan mainly exports textiles, pharmaceuticals, and surgical goods to Uzbekistan, while it imports fruits, vegetables, and cotton from Uzbekistan.

In 2021, the leaders of Pakistan and Uzbekistan held a virtual summit where they agreed to boost bilateral trade and investment. They also signed agreements in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, and culture. The two countries also agreed to enhance their connectivity through the development of rail, road, and air links. Pakistan and Uzbekistan are also part of several regional economic and trade blocs, including the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program. These platforms provide opportunities for both countries to enhance their trade and economic cooperation with each other and other regional countries.

In addition, Pakistan and Uzbekistan share a rich cultural heritage, with both countries being part of the ancient Silk Road trade route that connected East and West. The two countries have historical ties, with both having been part of the Mughal Empire and the Timurid dynasty. In recent years, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have taken steps to enhance their cultural relations. In 2021, the two countries signed agreements to promote cultural exchange and cooperation in the fields of art, music, literature, and archaeology. They also agreed to hold joint cultural events and festivals to showcase their cultural diversity.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan have a joint future in multiple fields; however, sustainable peace in the region is required to meet the ends. The transit route through Afghanistan will help in lifting millions of people from the vicious cycle of poverty in this region. Indeed, bilateral cooperation between the two nations can change the fate of millions of people. Currently, Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits that needs special attention. Trade relations with Central Asia will help the economy to recover from the aftershocks of Covid-19 and Ukraine war. 

Jehangir Khan Mehsud, a graduate of economics and Political Science From Forman Christian College University, Lahore

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