Islamabad, 26 November 2021 (TDI): The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a telephonic dialogue with the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Khan.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev congratulated the Pakistani Prime Minister on the occasion of his birthday. He wished him good health, well-being, and great success. The Uzbek President also expressed well wishes, peace, and prosperity for the people of Pakistan.

In the congratulatory phone call, the President of Uzbekistan also discussed issues pertaining to mutual interest with the Prime Minister of Pakistan

The two heads of the states discussed issues pertaining to the practical application of the agreements between Pakistan and Uzbekistan; at the highest level. Moreover, the two also discussed the expansion of ties between the friendly states for mutual advantage.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan are increasingly collaborating in the realm of trade. There has been a remarkable surge in bilateral ties because of cooperation at the business level.

During the phone call, the two sides also underscored the promotion of investment projects in the sphere of pharmaceuticals, chemistry, agricultural machinery, textile industry, building materials industry as well as other areas.

Imran Khan and Shavkat Mirziyoyev also discussed the efficient implementation of key infrastructure projects in the region along with the schedule of upcoming meetings.

Bilateral Ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan

Pakistan and Uzbekistan share cordial bilateral ties. The two regional partners have many things in common including religion. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in the wake of the disintegration of the USSR.

Both countries keenly collaborate to ensure regional security and stability; specifically in the prevailing circumstances because of the crisis in Afghanistan.

Thirty Years of Togetherness

It is important to note that this year Pakistan and Uzbekistan will be celebrating the landmark 30 years of establishment of formal diplomatic relations. This moment goes back to the time when the first connection was made after the end of the cold war and the Soviet era in 1991.

Since then there is no look back and togetherness,  congeniality, trust grew with leaps and bound in preceding years with no point of irritation. Both Pakistan and Uzbekistan share similar views on major regional and international issues and collaborate closely on multilateral forums including the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Various high-level visits to each other’s countries on regular basis reflect a strong desire to make substantial headways in enhancing cooperation and collaboration in various identified fields. Recently, Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umurzakov has met with the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and earlier foreign minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov was on an official visit to Islamabad and met Prime Minister Imran Khan and other high dignitaries.

In reciprocal visit, Adviser on Commerce and Investment Razak Dawood visited Uzbekistan leading a delegation of officials for a joint working group on trade and economic cooperation with the meeting of tripartite discussion to implement the ‘Trans-Afghan railway project”.

Recently Prime Minister Imran Khan has signed this important iconic agreement to join this connectivity initiative led by World Bank where Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are important stakeholders. This important connectivity project will assist in amplifying the much-needed trade flow hence larger people-to-people connections that will follow.

The urge and consistency in building lasting ties have gained momentum and both countries are eyeing to strengthen partnerships beyond especially through significant development of linkages in all spheres. There is not only a desire to achieve these objectives but there is a sense of hope in taking actions in the right direction as well.

Uzbekistan-Pakistan Trade Ties

Between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, there is a steady rise in the trade figures which has reached a record level of 122 million dollars in 2019 while it was 98 million in 2018, and in 2017 this was standing at 36.6 million. These numbers are encouraging yet with the potential of the market on both sides, this can grow.

The regular meetings of the Pakistan-Uzbekistan Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and the establishment of the joint Pakistan-Uzbekistan Business Council are a few steps in the right direction.

Pakistan has the potential to export engineering goods, medical equipment, sports goods, and textile fabrics while Uzbekistan may export cotton fiber, silk, minerals, fertilizers, cables, construction material, transmission lines, transformers, consumer electronics, and mobile phone and building materials along with agriculture machinery, chemicals, and aircraft to Pakistan.

Currently, both states desired to enhance trade volume to 300 million USD whereas Pakistan is importing cotton, yarn, clothes, iron, steel plastic, telecommunications equipment, and electric items from Uzbekistan.

Hence a need is there to make exports and imports a broad-based agenda. Pakistan is a natural partner to the emerging and leading economy as Uzbekistan provides the easy and shortest access to global markets through its bustling seaports like Gwadar -a crown of Belt and Road Initiative- a multitrillion-dollar mammoth project led by China link east to west. Similarly, CPEC is also offering Uzbekistan roads and networks reaching across the globe.

Pak-Uzbek People to People ties

In order to build people-to-people ties and develop understanding, the Institute of Oriental Studies, Tashkent, and the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Uzbekistan have opened Urdu Departments and faculties. The faculty members and students of this department published a historic compilation of Urdu-Uzbek dictionaries having 4000 words common in both languages.

There is also frequent exchange of scholars, who visit different Universities of both states to give lectures and engage in talks with faculty members and students at each other’s academic and research institutions. For example, Pakistan Foreign Services Academy and National Defense University provide training to various official representatives from Uzbekistan on regular basis.