The China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a Roundtable with the Heads of Mission of Central Asia and Azerbaijan. H.E. Mr. Atadjan Mamlamov, Ambassador of Turkmenistan and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, led the CAR-Azerbaijan delegation. Other delegation members included: H.E. Mr. Aybek Usmanov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan; H.E. Mr. Yerzhan Kistafin, Ambassador of Kazakhstan; Mr. Tamerlan Khalilov, Charge d’ Affaires of Azerbaijan; Mr. Saidjon Shafiev, Charge d’ Affaires of Tajikisan; and Mr. Melis Moldaliev, Counselor Kyrgyz Republic.
Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, Chairman BoG Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, and members of the CPSC represented the ISSI side.
Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director CPSC, in his introductory remarks, briefed the delegation on the mission and working of ISSI. He also highlighted Pakistan’s cultural and trade ties with Central Asian states and Azerbaijan.
Warmly welcoming the delegation, DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood underscored Pakistan’s deep historical and cultural links with Central Asia and Azerbaijan and the efforts underway to further fortify these ties.
He highlighted Pakistan’s ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy and its 5-pronged focus on deepening political and diplomatic; trade and investment; energy and connectivity; security and defence; and cultural and people-to-people relations.
He added that, besides history and culture, the key driver of this policy was Pakistan’s pivot to geo-economics. Ambassador Sohail Mahmood underscored the pivotal importance of regional connectivity and stressed that Pakistan provided the shortest access to the sea to Central Asian states.
Adding that both sides were working on enhancing ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ connectivity, he inter alia suggested that Pakistan and Central Asian states and Azerbaijan should establish a network of think-tanks, for which the Institute of Strategic Studies offered its platform. This will help to reinforce and advance the shared goals in various domains.
The Ambassadors/Heads of Mission, in their respective interventions, welcomed the initiative to hold the Roundtable and agreed with the overall objective of upgrading bilateral ties in diverse fields and enhancing mutual engagement at the regional level.
During the detailed exchanges in interactive session, valuable suggestions were made by the Heads of Mission to further increase high-level exchanges, strengthen business-to-business links, promote energy and communication projects, build academic and think-tank networks, and hold cultural exchanges on a regular basis.
It was also agreed to hold events to develop policy recommendations and suggest ways to enhance mutual awareness of the vast opportunities for increased collaboration between the two sides, on the bilateral plane and regionally.
Subsequently, Chairman BoG Ambassador Khalid Mahmood delivered his concluding remarks, which were followed by presentation of ISSI publications to the delegation.