Turkmenistan and Pakistan enjoy excellent economic, social, cultural and political relations since 1991 when Pakistan recognised the independence of Turkmenistan. For the past two decades, Turkmenistan and Pakistan have been developing good diplomatic relations. Pakistani Prime Ministers have paid special visits to Turkmenistan and so have Prime Ministers and high officials from Turkmenistan. Talks have led to plans of further boosting bilateral relations between the two. It is at this point that the significant contribution made by the Turkmen Ambassador H.E. Mr Movlamov Atajan Nurlyevich need to be mentioned.
Mr Movlamov Atajan plays a significant role in enhancing relations between both countries. With an aim of boosting trade and commerce, the Turkmen Ambassador has invited the Pakistani business community to conduct business meetings and expos along with offers to send Pakistani business delegations to his country. For this purpose, Turkmenistan has been asked to soften the process of visa for Pakistani nationals aiming to visit for business. This is in harmony with the statement made by Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce and Textile Mohammad Pervaiz Malik according to which,’Businessmen and Traders of Turkmenistan have opportunities for investment in Pakistan’ while talking to ambassador of Turkmenistan, Movlamov Atajan Nurlyevich in Islamabad.
Further, he has been instrumental in paving the way for various projects that aim to strengthen economic ties. This includes resolve made by both nations to expedite the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which was inked in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Both states agreed to start direct air links between Turkmenistan and Pakistan which would develop a trade corridor in the region. Pakistan is currently suffering from an energy crisis, and the TAPI gas pipeline project will prove one of the remedies to its energy crisis. The Central Asian state also wants to build the pipeline to sell energy to energy-hungry countries like Pakistan. The TAPI gas pipeline project will surely provide energy security in the region. Moreover, the agreement to expedite connectivity projects between the two countries including roads and rail linkages to increase bilateral trade has great potential to build healthy networking.
At this point it is pertinent to note that both Turkmenistan and Pakistan are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization. In November 2016, Pakistan joined the Ashgabat Agreement which aims to export Turkmen gas throughout the region in addition to the Lapis Lazuli corridor designed to facilitate trade. Discussing TAPI gas pipeline project, the envoy said that Turkmenistan considers Pakistan as a strategic partner for this project and is ready to cooperate more with Pakistan in energy sector.
Further, the significance of CPEC needs to be highlighted as a means of connecting both nations. The views about the importance of CPEC project according to Turkmenistan is as a special one as it would guarantee progress and prosperity in the region at large. While talking with the Turkmen ambassador, Pakistani representative endorsed the fact that, “CPEC is the most important artery in the region and stressed that all the regional countries should make their planning to get maximum benefit from it”. Pakistan will play its positive role to bring peace in the region by fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
Ambassador Movlamov while talking with the Federal Minister for Water and Power and Defense Khawaja Muhammad Asif assured that his country is committed to support Pakistan in energy sector and cooperation for enhancing bilateral engagement between the two countries in the energy, economic and defense spheres. The Federal Minister welcomed the Ambassador of Turkmenistan and conveyed the love and respect that Pakistanis have for Turkmenistan. He further asserted that Pakistan highly values its relations with Turkmenistan and wanted to enhance the relations between the two countries. It can be observed that Pakistan and Turkmenistan being brotherly countries are enjoying closed cordial relations in different fields and hoped that cooperation in the fields of energy and defense would further strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Atajan Movlamov, has addressed the problem of banking by working for the development of the banking channels that is now in process, which will facilitate the trade on a positive note between Pakistan and Turkmenistan. He considers that having an exchange of delegations, single countries exhibition and road shows organized by both countries can have a healthy effect upon the trade relations. Elaborating upon the state of Turkmenistan’s human development, he stated that the Turkmen government is providing most basic needs to the people free of cost in their country and that it has a 100% literacy rate, which exhibits their extent of success in governance and management. This makes them experts in areas such as health and wellbeing and education. Thus, collaboration between Turkmenistan and Pakistan in the sector of Health and Education has great potential for the Pakistani community as it can address our home needs to a great extent.
While addressing matters pertaining to promotion of bilateral relations the Turkmen ambassador has talked about the significance of the issue for both nations. Both countries it is believed, can successfully expand the spectrum of bilateral relations. The ambassador said that Pakistan and Turkmenistan share historic, cultural and religious bonds. Over the years both Pakistan and Turkmenistan had successfully developed excellent diplomatic relations. He claimed that the leadership of Turkmenistan “is keen to strengthen these ties further by extending cooperation in multiple areas including political, defence and economic sector such as trade and energy. The Ambassador stressed the need of increasing the momentum of bilateral meetings to strengthen cooperation.
He also highlighted the fact that the two countries shared views on major regional and international issues concerning peace and security. Cooperation in energy sector is a big lead forward. Both nations believe that Pakistan can offer connectivity to Turkmenistan and together we can multiply our economic potential as well. Both sides agreed to take steps to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
This fact has been endorsed by the Consul of Turkmenistan as it expressed that Pakistan and Turkmenistan are enjoying quite friendly relations, which will be a positive sign for the enhancement of bilateral trade. Embassy of Turkmenistan to Pakistan celebrated the 25th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and Pakistan under the able supervision of Atajan Movlamov. Both Ambassador Movlamov and Mrs Gazel Movlamova unfolded celebrations of 25th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence by holding an exhibition of photos and paintings.
The pictures and paintings highlighted images of Turkmenistan’s culture, history and its achievements after the country got free from the erstwhile Soviet Union.
The Paintings and drawings put on exhibition were done by young Pakistani students. The Pakistani children focused on Pakistan- Turkmenistan friendly relations. The two countries are closely cooperating with each other in various fields.
The Turkmen Ambassador voiced his opinion of wanting deeper and more extensive cooperation with Pakistan and that Turkmenistan is rich in energy resources and is destined to play very important role in meetings the energy deficit of several countries in the region including Pakistan. He was confident that Pakistan shares the same view.
In this backdrop it can be seen that Pakistan and Turkmenistan enjoy close, cordial relations marked by trust and understanding. These ties are characterized by mutual respect, shared perceptions and common desire to promote peace, stability and development in the region. The two countries also cooperate closely in regional and multilateral forums.
Given the historical ties and geographic proximity, not to mention the strategic and economic potential of CARs for Pakistan, it is essential that foreign policy makers firmly incorporate countries such as Turkmenistan in their vision for Pakistan’s future development on multiple fronts. It is at this point that the role played by H.E. Ambassador Movlamov needs to be lauded as it is mostly commitment and unparalleled dedication of individuals like him that is translated in histories of nations.
Dr. Lubna Umar
Author is the Editor of ‘Melange’ and ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Research Associate COPAIR