Islamabad, 2 November 2022 (TDI): Pakistan and Kazakhstan have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1992. Both states have enjoyed cordial ties since then. They have been cooperating on world issues with mutual understanding and goodwill gestures.
Kazakhstan has been working on ways to boost regional peace through various reforms. Kazakhstan has adopted substantial political and parliamentary reforms over the years. A set of checks and balances have been placed to monitor the country’s foreign policy as well due to the shift in global policies and geopolitical tensions.
New Political Reforms in Kazakhstan
In June 2022, polls were conducted for the citizens of Kazakhstan to vote for reforms. The political reforms were related to transforming the structure of the country’s politics from a super-presidential system to a “presidential system with a strong parliament”. Under the referendum, amendments to 33 articles of the constitution are made, making up one-third of the constitution.
These reforms were presented by the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. According to him, these reforms are a beginning of a steady, long-term process that will usher in a “New Kazakhstan.” These reforms strengthened Kazakhstan’s parliament and limited the President’s powers.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Roman Vassilenko, “Amendments have now been made to 33 articles that make up more than a third of the Constitution,”. He further confirmed that the amendments are made by 77 percent of the vote.
“Changes include reducing the powers of the presidency to establish an influential parliament and accountable government,” he said. “The president will no longer be a member of any political party and will no longer have the authority to overrule the acts of local leaders.”
In addition, the president’s family will not be encouraged to hold political or top administrative positions in any quasi-public companies. This provision will also apply to former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and his family.
Another critical point of these political reforms is the checks and balances in the system. “The reforms will enhance checks and balances, strengthen parliament and the independence of governors and mayors, and create the legal basis to tackle corruption and nepotism,” Vassilenko said. The political parties under the reforms will be allowed to participate in and register for elections easily.
The reforms also pledge to protect human rights, restore constitutional courts, abolish the death penalty, and strengthen national security. The president of Kazakhstan, in the recent General Assembly session of the United Nations, maintained the stance.
“The presidential mandate has been limited to one seven-year term, the economy is being demonopolized, the death penalty abolished, and a mandatory 30 percent quota for women and young people in electoral party legislative lists has been implemented. Not only at home, but also internationally, the country will spare no effort towards building a safer, more sustainable and prosperous global community”.
A round table was held on “Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Political Reforms in the framework of building a New Kazakhstan”. It was organized by the Institute of Peace and Diplomacy (IPDS), the Embassy of Kazakhstan to Pakistan, and the Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah International University.
In the opening remarks, Farhat Asif, President of IPDS, said Roundtable is organized to revisit the essential contours of the relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan and understand the new Kazakhstan.
In the keynote remarks by the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan, Yerzhan Kistafin reiterated that Pakistan and Kazakhstan had been supporting each other for three decades, and the two were successfully cooperating in a bilateral and multilateral format. Over the years, this partnership was strengthened through cooperation and outstanding diplomatic, economic, and political consultations.
“Kazakhstan has played its key role as regional peace and dialogue hub and, over the years, has made substantial political, parliamentary, and administrative reforms to move the country forward in peace and progress,” the ambassador maintained. He added that the changes in the political system are essential for economic development.
He also highlighted the recent speech by the President of Kazakhstan at the General Assembly session in the United Nations. The president at UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) session reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s commitment to political transformation, “Kazakhstan is on the path of transformative political reform to become a just nation, in which every citizen has the same opportunities, rights, and protections”.
Scholars from both nations participated through the online forum at the round table and expressed their views on the topic. Chief Researcher, Eurasian Studies Program Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP), Dr. Lidiya Parkhomchik, enunciated that Kazakhstan has a multisector policy and the country is playing its constructive role in bridging the divide between the east and west. She spoke at length about Pakistan-Kazakhstan’s relations in the international arena.
Moreover, she highlighted Kazakhstan’s commitment to new political reforms to balance its foreign policy to maintain regional peace. She also mentioned the signing of an important treaty by the country during the Central Asian summit in July this year, on friendship and maintaining relations with neighboring countries.
Former Vice Chancellor of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women’s University Prof. Dr. Razia Sultana, highlighted the role of Kazakhstan in playing its humanitarian and peace-building role for regional peace and prosperity. She said that Kazakhstan and Pakistan are collaborating in this regard.
Head of the Political Research Department of Kazakhstan, Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Toktarov Yermek Bauyrzhanovich explained the political reforms and overall process that led to these important steps for the country.
Pro- Vice-Chancellor of the University of Peshawar, Pakistan Prof. Dr. Zahid Anwar, highlighted prospects for scientific and education linkages between Kazakhstan and Pakistan and said there should be deep-rooted knowledge exchanges between people from both sides.
Deputy Director of the Institute of Parliamentary, Kazakhstan Dr. Kaliyeva Elmira Abdykovna, spoke about the constitutional transformations in Kazakhstan and their contribution to changing the role of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Head of the Department of International Relations at Muslim Youth University, Dr. Muhammad Munir, spoke about the collaboration between Pakistan and Kazakhstan in regional and international organizations.
Head of the International Relations Department Foreign Policy Research Institute, Kazakhstan, Dr. Gauhar Khalilovna Beiseeva, shed light on the current state and prospects of Kazakh-Pakistani cooperation.
The Head of the International Relations department at Riphah International University, Dr. Mushab Yousafi, thanked the participants.
The round table was attended by President of IPDS Farhat Asif, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Pakistan Yerzhan Kistafin, Chief Executive Eurasian Studies Program Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP)-Dr. Lidiya Parkhomchik, Former Vice Chancellor of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Prof. Dr. Razia Sultana, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Peshawar Prof. Dr. Zahid Anwar, Deputy Director of the Institute of Parliamentarism Dr, Kaliyeva Elmira Abdykovna, Head of Department of International Relation Muslim Youth University Dr. Muhammad Munir, Head of International Relations Department Foreign Policy Research Institute Kazakhstan Dr, Gauhar Khalilovna Beiseeva and Head of Department International Relations at Riphah International University Dr. Mushab Yousafi.
The event was also attended by foreign diplomats, prominent politicians, heads of think tanks and public organizations, universities of Pakistan, businessmen, and local media representatives.