ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Pakistan Barlybay Sadykov has said that his country has drafted a road map, aimed at intensifying Pakistan-Kazakhstan bilateral economic cooperation.
In an exclusive interview with the Chief Editor Dispatch News Desk (DND) News Agency Agha Iqrar Haroon in Islamabad, Barlybay Sadykov said that this document is largely about a set of measures, which are to push forward our trade and investment cooperation.
Following is the script of Kazakhstan Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov’s interview with DND
Q: Your Excellency, what are major areas of cooperation between Pakistan and Kazakhstan right now?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: From the very beginning of diplomatic relationship between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, which date back to early 1990s, our countries have never questioned the need for developing and enhancing their bilateral ties, no matter of what cooperation area we are talking about. It means that Kazakhstan and Pakistan have no political hindrances whatsoever to increase the volume of their cooperation bonds.
Another conspicuous matter about Pakistan is that your country was among the first in the world to recognize Kazakhstan as a sovereign state in 1991 after the demise of the Soviet Union, which my country had been for decades an integral part of.
Apart of impeccable political relationship, which is strongly based upon mutual and adequate understanding of modern geopolitical realities and its ongoing trends, Kazakhstan and Pakistan have a lot in common in terms of their historical background, historical and religious linkages, which go back centuries, and nowadays appear to be a unique heritage we own and should fully exercise in a most efficient manner.
Right now the entire volume of political contacts the countries include numerous mutual visits of their leadership and cooperation within various international organizations, ranging from the UN to the ones of regional character, namely the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
The last occasion of a high ranking political visit of the Pakistani leadership to Kazakhstan was the one of the President Mamnoon Hussain with the aim of participating at the 1st OIC Summit and Technologies, held in Astana in September 2017.
Here is worthwhile to point out that Pakistan is a host country of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the OIC, while Kazakhstan is a host country of another OIC institution, which is termed as the Islamic Organization for Food Security. This fact is not only about Kazakhstan-Pakistan cooperation within the OIC but rather about our countries contribution to development of areas, which are of paramount importance for the entire Muslim world, namely availability of food supplies and nurturing a culture of knowledge.
Another area of bilateral collaboration is, of course, the military one, keeping in mind that the Pakistani armed forces strength, experience and their great degree of involvement of the UN-led Peacekeeping Mission across the world are widely known and recognizable.
This is to say that Kazakhstan is interested very much in knowing more about that experience, what makes my country to intensify military ties with Pakistan, which currently turned into the most effective and rapidly developing fields of our bilateral cooperation.
These ties largely cover the specific areas, such as military education, special forces training and military enginery. Late November the delegation of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Defence and Aerospace Industry visited Karachi for attending the 10th IDEAS-2018, more known as the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar. This is the event, which Kazakhstan militaries always try to attend, while their Pakistan counterparts regularly participate at the KADEX military enginery and ammunition exhibition, held in Kazakhstan.
There are also 38 representatives of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan who have been trained since 2005 in military schools in Pakistan. This year four Kazakhstan officers underwent training courses for the UN military observers at the International Centre for Peace and Stability in Islamabad.
At the same time we in Kazakhstan are keen to be aware of Pakistan’s vast expertise Pakistan in combating terrorism, what is also another area of cooperation. The first joint counter-terrorist exercises “Dostarym-2017”, which were held in November 2017 at the National Anti-Terrorist Centre of the Pakistan in Pabbi overtly demonstrated to the demand from both sides for trainings of this sort. The second counter-terrorism exercises under the same title are expected to be held in Kazakhstan in 2019.
Summing up my answer I would like to note that both Kazakhstan and Pakistan authorities have to examine constantly and in a systematic way our cooperation potential in order to identify and respond in a timely manner to opportunities for improving that cooperation as much as it possible.
Q: What is a trade volume between the two countries?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: Certainly, lack of direct geographical communications seriously hamper our bilateral economic and trade cooperation. But even though the current dynamics of trade and economic interaction between our countries could be much better.
The dates provided by Kazakhstan’s statistical authorities make it clear that a trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Pakistan in 2017 amounted to US$ 28,42 million, which was 12% more than for the similar period of 2016 (US$ 25,6 million).
Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and Pakistan in January-August of 2018 amounted to US$ 21.7 million.
The Pakistani export to Kazakhstan largely consists of precious stones and jewelry, textile, chemical and pharmaceutical products, agricultural and food goods, vegetables, shoes, leather items, sport and medical equipment, construction materials and etc.
Pakistan imports from Kazakhstan construction and materials, food, machinery and equipment, fertilizers, coal, iron and nonferrous metals, seed oil and etc.
With taking into account Pakistan’s huge market, Kazakhstan may in principle to export to Pakistan energy resources, electricity, mining and agricultural products, in particular wheat and meat, while importing in a large volume from Pakistan products of textile, cotton, leather industry, along with sanitary engineering equipment, medicaments and surgical instruments.
For improving trade relationship our countries need first to rise an awareness of their business circles of each other. This imperative strongly motivated the Embassy of Kazakhstan to hold in late November of 2018 in Islamabad a special seminar on ways of doing business with Kazakhstan.
The entire foreign service of Kazakhstan is currently shifting towards strengthening primarily economic diplomacy in developing our country’s relationship with the rest of the world. This is to say that the Embassy is also to be strongly in line with this policy to be held here in Pakistan.
Kazakhstan and Pakistan have some opportunities to boost their trade and investment ties, which are to be fully exercised in a befitting way.
The Embassy is planning now to arrange a number of seminars, round-tables and road-shows to be held within a tour through Pakistan’s economic and industrial hubs in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some other areas, with the aim of increasing awareness of local business circles about Kazakhstan, its trade and investment opportunities, as well as tourist potential of our country. In this regard I would like to underscore that the World Bank’s «Doing Business» comprehensive report for 2018 has ranked Kazakhstan 28th in terms of the ease of doing business, compared with its position at the 36th place in 2017.
Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), which was officially launched in the mid-2018 as the English-law-based institution, is expected to turn very soon into a regional financial hub, alike the Shanghai stock market and the New-York stock market «Nasdaq». Pakistani business community is also highly welcomed to join cooperation with the AIFC.
Q: How many bilateral contracts and MoUs have been signed between Pakistan and Kazakhstan during the last 5 years and what is practical status of their execution?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: Right now development of Kazakhstan-Pak relationship in legal terms is based upon 35 documents of various kind and interaction level. But if come up with those, which have been singed through last five years, these were the outcomes of the official visit to Kazakhstan, paid by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif in 2015. The range of those bilateral contracts included the ones in the field of military education, cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce, training of diplomatic cadre, and trade development, of course. This is, for instance, to say that militaries of Kazakhstan are eligible to undergo trainings in Pakistani military academies. And this sort of cooperation is really productive now, as 38 military servicemen from Kazakhstan got training in Pakistan since 2005. This is certainly the overt manifestation of Kazakhstan’s steady interest towards quality of the Pakistani military education system, which is highly rated in the world. The same is to be said about a long-lasting tradition of sending by the Foreign Office of Kazakhstan its staff, particularly young diplomats, for getting trainings in Pakistan’s diplomatic service Academy. This tradition is still on and we look forward to making it to meet expectations and cooperation aspirations of both sides.
As you can see bilateral contracts may be well working under the will and commitment for cooperation to be revealed from all of us. This universal international relations maxima is certainly valid also for the Kazakh-Pak relationship.
Q: Since Pakistan is a new full member of SCO, what benefit Kazakhstan can provide to Pakistan as the oldest member of the SCO?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: In June of 2017 in Astana, Pakistan joined the SCO as a full-fledged member state, what is certainly to amplify an involvement of Islamabad into regional trends in Central Asia and beyond. As a full member state of the SCO Pakistan is able to contribute a lot in making the organization even stronger and to link the SCO countries with South Asia. But at the time we all need some time to access adequately a significance of Pakistan’s joining the SCO, given the scope of that historical event. But what is clear now is that membership of Pakistan will strengthen both international weight and efficiency of the SCO, what fully meets interests of Kazakhstan.
On its own part Kazakhstan, which has a long membership history in the SCO, can easily share with that experience, when it comes to some procedural matters and decision-making process within the organization.
Q: Please inform our readers what is Kazakhstan’s vision of Eurasianism and how creation of the Eurasian Economic Union will benefit the region?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which comprises Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, was inspired by the strategic vision and political acumen of our country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who articulated his call for setting up the Union ten years before it really came into existence in 2014.
The very idea of Eurasianism is strongly based upon the geographical location and size of Kazakhstan, whose territory for many centuries had been linking the East with the West. And now, when the globalized world and rapid progress of communication technologies push countries much closer to each other in an unprecedented manner, it looks more than reasonable that Kazakhstan is trying to keep fulfilling its historical mission of connecting different parts of the globe. This is what we call as Kazakhstan’s vision of Eurasianism under new era of globalization.
If we come back to the Eurasian Economic Union as an interstate entity, it is crucial to underscore that the Union has nothing to do with power politics or alliance policy. From the very beginning Kazakhstan stressed that the Eurasian Economic Union should function upon four basic principles.
First, economic pragmatism;
Second, voluntary participation;
Third, sovereign equality of member states;
Fourth, no prejudice to member stats sovereign rights.
In other words the Eurasian Economic Union is not about reincarnation of the Soviet Union but rather about paying tribute to a common economic sense and keeping safe those economic ties, which connected people and regions for a long time under the Soviet rule.
Thanks to the Eurasian Economic Union the Kazakh business has free access to the huge consumption market with a population of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars. Of course, in this case our national business has to compete with the one of other member-states of the Union. But the good thing here is that this sort of competition is expected to make the Kazakh business more effective and genuinely competitive. And this what the Eurasian Economic Union is about for us in Kazakhstan.
Q: What are your priorities to enhance people-to-people contact as Ambassador of Kazakhstan of Kazakhstan in Pakistan? How people to-people contact can be enhanced?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: People-to-people contacts between countries in the contemporary globalizing world are getting of extreme importance for keeping interstate relationship safer and more predictable. This is even to say that degree of this sort contacts is a certain a marker of what this relationship is about in terms of its depth and cooperative nature. This approach is totally applicable for accessing Kazakhstan-Pak relations as well. For this reason, it is quite obvious that increasing of people-to-people contacts is the issue of great significance for me as the Ambassador of Kazakhstan and the Embassy I run.
Coming up to the issue of how to facilitate ties between people of our countries first we need to do is to raise their awareness of each other, which is really a challenging task for both sides. This in turn requires joint and systematic efforts from our national mass media and expert community on a purely bilateral basis and with no excessive reliance upon information provided by any other third party. In other words, perception of Kazakh and Pakistan people of each other should be shaped largely through our own contribution to this process. And we as the Embassy are open for promoting a cooperation of that kind, having, however, in mind that there is a strong need for this cooperation products to be qualitative, competitive and easy to consume by people. Otherwise people in our countries will be destined to consume and stay impressed by any other third-country-made information. And this sort of information dependence is, of course, hard to be termed as something good or positive.
Q: Is there any plan for Youth Exchange Programme of Kazakhstan with Pakistan as it has with some other countries?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked about. In this regard I would like to stress that there are no formal impediments whatsoever for developing this sort youth exchange program between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, keeping in mind that both of them have a large portion of young and ambitious population. The first step towards a perspective of working out of any youth exchange programs is to be a systematizing education links between universities of our countries. For instance, the Ministry of Education & Science of Kazakhstan annually tends to expand the list of countries, whose students may be covered by this sort of exchange programs. We hope that Pakistan will also be added to this list in the foreseeable. But again, actions of this kind should be preceded by the shape of cooperative mindset in the youth mentality. In April we plan to organize round table on education programs of Kazakhstan and will discuss with representatives of Pakistani universities and institutions the prospects for Pakistani student’s education in Kazakhstan and youth exchanges.
Q: Now tell us about you. Where you were born? Your schooling, education?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: I was born in the city of Omsk, which is the Russian Siberia. This area of the modern-day Russian Federation, which borders with Kazakhstan, is traditionally populated by a numerous Kazakh diaspora, which is now considered to be the biggest Kazakh minority, living in Russia.
In 1988 I graduated from the Military Institute of the Defense Ministry of the Soviet Union and for five following years served at the Soviet Defense Ministry and later at the one of sovereign Kazakhstan. In 1993 I joined Ministry of Foreign affairs of Kazakhstan and attended extensive Diplomatic courses in UK, Austria, and Kazakhstan.
Q: What Pakistan food you like the most?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: Of course, as a representative of Central Asia, I prefer the dishes that originally came to Pakistan from our region, such as Pulao or Samosa. Most favorite is national dish which is called beshbarmak.
At the same time, the flavor of Chicken Handi or Chicken Karahi always attracts my attention.
Q: What Pakistan fruit you like the most?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: You know, I have been in Pakistan for less than a year, but I was lucky enough to catch the season of fragrant Chaunsa Mangoes. My whole family simply fell in love with this exotic fruit.
Now I am waiting for the season of world famous Pakistani Kinnow Mandarins.
Any message you wish to send to our listeners and readers as Ambassador of Kazakhstan?
Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov: First of all, I would like to underscore that I am really pleased to sit in front of such a broad audience in my humble endeavor to brief people of Pakistan on development of relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan, their prospects of this relationship, which, I am very certain, are bright as they deserve to be so.
Pakistan is a country, which is widely known across the world as the country with great potential for prosperity and making the entire world a much safer place to live in. For this reason, I would barely be mistaken to say that prosperous development of Pakistan and the Pakistani society is not just a case only about them, but it is rather about prosperity and security of the vast region of South Asia and far beyond of it. In this regard I want to wish your listeners and all people of brotherly Pakistan every success and well-being.