An Interview with Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi: SCO Summit in Bishkek helped Pakistan showcasing its rich cultural heritage

SCO Summit in Bishkek helped Pakistan to showcase its rich cultural heritage, says Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi
Pakistan’s Ambassador in Bishkek Faisal Tirmizi

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Faisal Niaz Tirmizi has said that the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in Bishkek on June 13-14, 2019 helped us to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan among Member States.

In an interview with the Islamabad-based Dispatch News Desk (DND) news agency, Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi said that Pakistan participated in the SCO Summit for the second time, and its contributions during the preparation meetings as well as ministerial meetings was greatly appreciated by the Member States of the SCO.

The Ambassador said that all SCO Member States greatly appreciated the positive contributions of Pakistan’s delegation during the 27th ministerial and expert level meetings which preceded the Summit in the last nine months.

Questions and Answers of the interview by Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi are here under;

Q No.1 After a long time any prime minister from Pakistan visited Kyrgyzstan. How much Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit would help to enhance bilateral relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan?

Answer:  This was the first visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Central Asia to attend the SCO meeting on June 13-14. The last visit of a Pakistani leader was of former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in May 2015.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan held delegation level talks with President Sooronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov of the Kyrgyz Republic. Both leaders directed their respective foreign ministers to hold the next sessions of Joint Ministerial Commission as well as the Bilateral Political Consultations before the end of 2019. They also direct their Ministers to initiate process to start direct flights between the two countries as well as increase people to people and business to business contacts.

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Q No.2 Would you like to share some important points with us discussed in the meeting between Imran Khan and the Kyrgyz president?

Answer: Yes surely, the two leaders;

  • Directed their respective foreign ministers to hold the next sessions of the Joint Ministerial Commission as well as the Bilateral Political Consultations before the end of 2019.
  • Both the leaders also expressed confidence on the ongoing work on CASA-1000 project through which Pakistan would be importing 1300 mw electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan through Afghanistan. The project is likely to be completed by the second half of 2021 or the first half of 2022.
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan also discussed the possibility of operationalizing the Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (QATT) with the Kyrgyz leader and suggested that all hurdles on smooth transiting of goods through China should be streamlined. They also discussed the possibility of turning Khunjrab Pass as TIR Convention enabled border crossing to facilitate smooth transit trade between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan without inspections during transit in China.
  • The two leaders also discussed the possibility of integrating north-south China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with east-west road and railway corridor among China-Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
  • President Jeenbekov reiterated Kyrgyzstan’s desire to use port facilities at Karachi and Gawadar which would provide it the shortest outlet to international waters transiting through only one country, China. At present Kyrgyzstan is using the Chabahar Port transiting through Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need to increase people-to-people and business-to business linkages between the two countries and hoped that overland and air connectivity would promote trade and tourism.
  • Prime Minister thanked the Kyrgyz side for providing education to 2600 Pakistani students but stressed the need to ensure their admission on standards of the Government of Pakistan.
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Q No.3 There were some sideline meetings of Prime Minister Imran Khan during the SCO Summit. Please inform us about outcomes of such meetings.

Answer: Prime Minister Imran Khan held sidelines meeting with President of the Kyrgyz Republic. He also held detailed discussions with the President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Xi Jinping of the Republic of China, President Emomali Rahmon of the Republic of Tajikistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the Republic of Kazakhstan and President Alexander Lukashenko of the Republic of Belarus.

Q No.4 What was overall outlook of Pakistani PM during SCO Summit?

Answer: Prime Minister Imran Khan was extremely happy at the outcome of the SCO Summit and his interactions with the Presidents of members countries especially Kyrgyzstan, China, Russian Federation, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan. He agreed that Pakistan has to re-engage with all its immediate neighbours with whom it shares its geography, traditions and long history.

It only takes one hour and twenty minutes for direct flight to reach Bishkek from Islamabad which is nearly 25 minutes shorter than the flight between Islamabad and Karachi.

Prime Minister has also directed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to undertake bilateral visits to all capitals in Central Asia and to start the process for Foreign Ministerial dialogue with all member countries. Prime Minister has also expressed his desire to undertake bilateral visits to all capitals of the region.

Q No.5 How Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan can enhance their bilateral trade?

Answer: The biggest obstacle to increase the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan is the lack of direct flight between the two countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Sooronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov have directed their respective foreign ministers to look at the possibility of starting regular flight connections between the two countries. Both the countries have extended 5th Freedom right to each other. A delegation of the Tabani Group has already undertaken a visit to Bishkek to start the service. However, they have not made much progress. Efforts are afoot to encourage private airlines from both countries to start regular flight connections between the two countries. Second impediment is lack of implementation of the Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (QATT) between Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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Both leaders have also agreed that Khunjrab pass should be declared a TIR Convention enable border crossing to facilitate unhindered flow of transit trade between Pakistan and Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan provides an entry point to Pakistani product to the 182-million strong Eurasian Economic market comprising Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Similarly Pakistan is the shortest outlets to international waters for products from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan has expressed its desire to utilize port facilities at Karachi and Gwadar for international trade. Both sides have initiated process to reach an agreement in doing so.

Q No.6 Is there any chance for air connectivity between Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan in near future?

Answer: As I earlier mentioned that both Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Kyrgyz president have issued directives to their respective foreign ministers in this regard. In addition to that, all necessary initiatives are in place to ensure that the two countries are linked with air connectivity.

 

Tags: Faisal Tirmizi, Bishkek, SCO, SCO Summit in Bishkek,