Although Pakistan was among the first countries to recognize the Kyrgyz Republic after its independence from USSR in 1991 but the relationship dates back to centuries, to the time of the Mughal Empire. The great king His Majesty Zaheer-ud-Din Babur hailed from the Ferghana valley, which is stretched across present-day Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and the remnants of his rule such as Babur’s mosque is still well-preserved in the Osh city of Kyrgyzstan. Both nations have a shared perception and stance towards many global and regional issues and are currently cooperating in the economy, energy, education, tourism and several other domains.
The Kyrgyz Republic and Pakistan have close friendly relations since the independence of the former, and in the first few years of establishing diplomatic relations, both nations signed the Bilateral Treaty Agreement (BTI) for the promotion and expansion of economic ties and ever since more than 34 MoU’s are signed between both nations. Pakistan also established a branch of the State Bank of Pakistan in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital city. Both, Kyrgyz Republic and Pakistan are endowed with huge reservoirs of natural resources and highly skilled human resources and there are many areas where both can collaborate. In terms of exports, Kyrgyzstan is recognized for organic fruits and vegetables, meat, honey, dairy products, aluminium, jet fuel etc. while cotton, textile, iron and steel, tea, coffee, pharmaceuticals and machinery are the major commodities Pakistan export to the Kyrgyz Republic. Both countries have been successful in acquiring the EU GSP Plus status and Kyrgyzstan is an integral part of the Eurasian Economic Union. However, despite all these initiatives, the trade potential was not tapped to the optimum level yet, the trade volume of both nations is still $4million, and Pakistan’s investment in Kyrgyzstan is $3.5billion. The inter-governmental Kyrgyz-Pakistan Commission was established in 1994 but to harness its potential for improvement of trade and investment, there is a need to reinvigorate this commission. Both countries are producing a number of products, which could be of great value in each other’s market and compete with products of other countries in terms of affordability and quality. In 2019, the leaders of both nations, Imran Khan and Soronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov agreed to bolster their trade to $10million on the sidelines of SCO
Apart from the United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), both nations are common member states of other international and regional organizations like the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Another area where the interests of both nations converge is the energy sector because Pakistan is an energy deficient country suffering from an energy crisis whereas Kyrgyzstan is known for its surplus energy production, utilizing its rich water resources for hydropower production. A manifestation of this convergence of interest is the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Programme (CASA)-1000 power project that will allow for the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Pakistan said that most of the work is completed from their side and they are looking forward to other partners for completing their side of work to start the project. This project is expected to complete by 2023 and it will produce 1300-megawatt hydel energy.
Similarly, Pakistan can support Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked nation, by providing the shortest and most viable land route access to the Arabian Sea, Middle East and African markets. In this regard, both states) along with China and Kazakhstan have already signed Quadrilateral Traffic and Transit Agreement (QTTA) in 1995. It is a 3700-kilometre long transit trade route, which will connect the landlocked Central Asian partners (Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan) with China and then ports of Pakistan to the Gawadar Port under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The significance of QTTA is that it connects the Central Asian region to the hot waters by circumnavigating Afghanistan, a country suffering from insecurity due to the war on terror for the last two decades.
The education sector is also playing its role in bolstering the bilateral relations of both nations. Such as the quality of higher education in Kyrgyzstan, thousands of Pakistani students are studying in the country, especially in the medical field. Similarly, both nations have joined hands in the field of research and as a result, the University of Central Asia and Pakistan (UCAP) has been founded in Islamabad.
Moreover, other areas of cooperation between both Asian countries are tourism, medicine, the food industry and climate change. The embodiment of close ties between both nations is evident from the regular high-level exchange visits between both nations.
Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic to Pakistan, H.E. Erik Beishembiev participated in the Trade and Investment Forum organized by Amna Malik – President COPAIR
Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic H.E. Erik Beishembiev and his Deputy Head of Mission participated in the Trade and Investment Forum organized by the President of Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) Amna Malik. The Ambassador shed light on the deep-rooted socio-cultural and historical connectivity of the Kyrgyz Republic with Pakistan and pointed out that SCO, CASA-1000 and QTTA are live examples of cordial relations between both nations. He was of the view that his country can act as a connectivity hub for Pakistan’s exports that can reach the Central Asian and European markets by road. He also stressed that there is a great potential for tourism and investments in the Kyrgyz Republic as both nations have EU GSP+ and leveraging the free trade zones both nations can boost their economic activity especially with their exports to the European markets. For this, he said, we have to take advantage of our geographical contiguity and QTTA can play a significant role in this. He also commended the Military forces of Pakistan and urged that closer defence cooperation between both nations will further their brotherly bond.
He was of the view that a direct flight between Bishkek and Islamabad will bolster the prospects of trade and enhance people-to-people contacts. He concluded by extending his gratitude to the President COPAIR Ms Amna Malik and her team for organizing the event and said that such activities will help further improve the relations between both countries.