By Raja G Mujtaba
After a lapse of 16 years, a Pakistani Prime Minister paid an official visit to a brotherly Muslim country. For this Prime Minister Yusuf Gillani needs to be appreciated. Such visits should not be symbolic but pave ways for more meaningful and lasting relations. Such relations can only be developed when people to people contacts are enhanced through trade, commerce, education and tourism etc.
S M Hali, a PTV anchor person is doing a commendable job within very little resources to work on Pakistan’s International Relations.
Defence and Diplomacy is a very important programme that is viewed not only within Pakistan by the Diplomatic Corps but also across the globe to keep a focus on Pakistan. If this programme is given its due place in the Media Policy of the government, it can achieve dividends that cannot be measured. It has the potency to offset many a international games and designs that are being planned and hatched against Pakistan.
Being a nuclear power, Pakistan is no ordinary country, many games are being played around Pakistan. Here its not just the US and the UK but India and Israel are also very active to reduce Pakistan in its different dimensions.
So much for the programme, now coming to the Pakistan-Kazakhstan relations that has its roots spread over many centuries needs special focus.
Predominantly a Muslim country, Kazakhstan with over 30 billion barrels proven reserves is an oil exporting country that for the moment are limited for not having a reliable and affordable access to International waters.
However, geographic limitations and decaying infrastructure present serious obstacles. Landlocked, with restricted access to the high seas, Kazakhstan relies on its neighbors to
export its products, especially oil and gas. Although its Caspian Sea ports and rail lines carrying oil have been upgraded but that is not to match the potential of Kazakhstan. Pakistan is the only country that can provide access to warm waters therefore developing of rail and road links must be taken up on priority. Civil aviation has been completely neglected in the past. Now for this reason, the Kazak government has requested during the visit for PIA links between Astana and Islamabad.
In the absence of rail links and unreliable road communications, air link is the only option that the two countries have that must be exploited to its maximum potential.
This vital link must be provided without any waste of time; not only this, Astana should also be linked with Sialkot and Karachi to expand and facilitate the trade between the two countries.
I would go a step further, keeping in view the dynamism of the businessmen of Sialkot in mind, Pakistan government must give all the incentives to them to develop trade and commerce with Central Asia and beyond. Keeping their past record in view one can be confident that they would deliver in the least possible time.
Telecommunications must also be brought to the leading edge levels, coaxial cables (fiber optics) and satellite communication must be established not only to cover Kazakhstan but entire Central Asia and beyond.
Rail communication is an important component of composite communication system. To link Central Asia with Pakistan and then onwards to Gawadar and Karachi, Afghanistan needs to be bridged. On 8th September, I met H. E. Mohammad Umer Daudzai Afghan Ambassador over dinner at the National Day of Uzbekistan. Talking to him, he was very enthusiastic to further enhance bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan but was very enthusiastic have such a road and rail links via Afghanistan.
The Ambassador mentioned that a motorway up to Jalalabad has been completed by Pakistan, portion between Jalalabad and Kabul is being done by Afghanistan that is expected to be completed within this year. Once done, it would be a major development that would link Pakistan with Central Asia.
Pakistan must work on yet another option to link Tajikistan through Wakhan valley. It’s a narrow strip that could provide yet another route to Cnetral Asia.
Yet another option that we must work on is a direct road and rail link from Gawadar to Kandahar via Kohay Muraad and Nok Kundi.
Presently, we have an option to provide road and rail links via Kashgar, China but that would entail manifold cost through distance and time, however it must also be developed as a secondary option.
Visa regime needs immediate focus, in my opinion, the visas must be stamped at the port of entry without going through long hassles of the embassies etc. Visa fee could be charged at the port of entry.
Kazakhstan’s military hardware is of Russian origin that could be easily supplemented by Pakistan for its indigenous productions are also based on the footprints of Russian technology through China and Ukraine etc. This would not only provide easily affordable equipment to Kazakhstan but would also give a strong fillup to Pakistan economy and enhancement and expansion of its military hardware production base.
Pakistan could also offer military training in its institutions at all levels starting from basic training at the Military Academies.
Besides this, Pakistan is also in a position to offer professional training in various disciplines of trade, commerce, banking, media and government civil services academies.
With its growing number of educational institutions and universities that are equipped to provide education in a diversified fields such as medicine, engineering, IT, IR, Mass communication etc.
Not only is this, due to its small population and virtually no defence production exposed to many threats from different quarters. besides many minerals like landlocked country has become the cause for the big game going on this region. First it was under the yolk of USSR and now it’s being eyed by the West. The main attraction being its geographic location, vast size, the terrain of Kazakhstan ranges from flatlands, steppes, taigas, rock-canyons, hills, deltas, and snow-capped mountains to deserts. US is keen to have a strong foothold in the region to capture its resources and deny the same to China and Russia. For other countries, it would be used as a leverage to make them stand behind the US.
With 16.4 million people (2010 estimate), Kazakhstan is population deficient to defend her sovereignty and territorial integrity against powerful players like the US, NATO etc. This she can affectively makeup buy acquiring force multipliers and regional pacts etc. has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometer (15 per sq. mi.).
Pakistan’s media policy is nonexistent therefore it lacks purpose and direction. Every channel is working with its own agenda and objectives. At least PTV should be made more meaningful that should move out of Islamabad and party patronages, air programmes in regional languages, develop joint productions with ECO member countries for the promotion of culture, tourism, trade, commerce and education etc.
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