Ambassador of Tajikistan: Tourism is the key


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – During an interview with the Ambassador of Tajikistan, Sherali Saidamir Jononove maintained that Tajikistan would become the only country to connect Central Asia with Pakistan through air flights, as Tajikistan will start flight operations of a Lahore-Dushanbe flight from May 6, 2016. He said tourism is the key to connect people and enhance understanding among them. He was optimistic that tourism, trade, and social interaction between Pakistan and Tajikistan will be enhanced in forthcoming years.

“Without any doubt, CPEC and Gwader Port are [the] shortest and cheapest ways for Tajikistan to reach world markets, and Prime Minister Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif emphasized during his meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon that Gwadar Port is for everybody in the region.”

This was stated by the Ambassador of Tajikistan in Islamabad, Sherali Saidamir Jononove, during an interview given to Dispatch News Desk news agency in Islamabad.

Ambassador Sherali Saidamir Jononove added that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, will attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the CASA1000 project on May 12, 2016 in Dushanbe, and this project will help Pakistan to overcome its energy crises.

Responding to another question about the CASA1000 project, Ambassador Sherali Saidamir Jononove stated that Tajikistan would export 1000 MW of hydel electricity to Pakistan under the CASA1000 project through a 750-kilometer-long line of 500 KV that would also be utilized for transmitting around 300 MW of hydel electricity to Pakistan from Kyrgyzstan. He added that Tajikistan has usually 18 billion KV surplus, so it would be a great opportunity for Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis, as Tajikistan can export more than 5000 MW of electricity to Pakistan in the future.

Giving details about the CASA1000 ceremony, he said that there would be 3 events including a Consultative Meeting of energy ministers of both countries that would be attended by Federal Minister Kh Asif on May 11, with this meeting being followed by a Regional Cooperation Conference on the same evening. He added that groundbreaking will be held on May 12 where the chief guest would be Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif.

When asked about the fate of the project, as CASA1000 transmission lines would come from those areas of Afghanistan where a security situation is critical, Ambassador Sherali Saidamir Jononove stated that Afghanistan has given sovereign guarantee to all partners to protect the line and takes responsibility of security of the project. He added that Afghanistan is a sovereign country, and it will be its responsibility to protect this project. He maintained that 2 lines coming from Tajikistan are already providing electricity to Afghanistan for the last 18 years without interruption, therefore, one should believe that the CASA1000 transmission line would be out of danger.

Talking about the capacity of exporting hydel electricity of Tajikistan, Ambassador Sherali Saidamir Jononove said that only Tajikistan could export more than 5000 MW of electricity to Pakistan through hydel projects, especially in the summer season. He was of the view that the CASA1000 hydel project would be cleaner and the cheapest way to overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan.

Responding to a question regarding the interest of Tajikistan to use Gwadar Port for its trade and business activities, Ambassador Sherali Saidamir Jononove stated that Tajikistan is using Balkan ports for its cargo, while Gwadar Port will be the shortest possible way to reach the world markets for Tajikistan.

When indicated that Tajikistan was using the North South Corridor that connects Tajikistan via Turkmenistan to the Iranian port of Chabahar, Ambassador Sherali Saidamir maintained that Gwadar port will be the shortest way to reach the sea through the CPEC road network, and goods coming or going in seven days through the North South Corridor would be transported only in 2 to 3 days through the CPEC road network and Gwadar Port. “Gwader Port is [the] shortest and cheapest way for our products to go to [the] world market,” he added.

When asked about trade relations between the two countries, he cited that the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Nawaz Sharif, during their last meeting had decided to increase bilateral trade to over half a billion dollars between the 2 countries, therefore, officials of both countries are working to find every possible way to enhance trade within the shortest possible span of time, and both countries are engaged in showcasing their products through exhibitions and trade festivals. He added that there were 2 trade exhibitions in Dushanbe for Pakistani traders and businessmen within the last 3 months and another trade festival will be held in May 2016.

He said that Pakistan was producing the best surgical tools, sports goods, and leather products, but businessmen of Tajikistan had less knowledge about the potential of bilateral trade with Pakistan. He stated that constant exhibitions and trade festivals are helping business communities of both countries to understand potentials and possibilities of smooth trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan.

He was of the view that trade cannot be enhanced without people-to-people contact, therefore, both the countries have decided to enhance contact in cultural, tourism, and social sectors.

When he was asked how people-to-people contact could be enhanced without direct land or air contact between the two countries, he disclosed that Lahore-Dushanbe regular flights will be operational from May 6, 2016, and Tajikistan would be the only country that would connect Pakistan with Central Asia through regular passenger as well as cargo flights.

“People of Pakistan and Tajikistan can do a lot of business and can become further closer if they have opportunities for constant interaction. [The] reason for lesser contact among people is [a] gap of communication, and this gap is being covered by initiatives taken by the governments of Pakistan and Tajikistan like opening flights and setting up trade festivals,” he commented.

He appreciated the Chamber of Commerce of Rawalpindi for organizing a trade exhibition in Dushanbe. He added that this trade exhibition between the 2 countries was the first after a pause of around 12 years.

He stated that he is in contact with almost every ministry of Pakistan that can help to enhance bilateral trade and people-to-people contact and said that he discussed with all ministries how to do business in the region.

When asked that vision he had for Pak-Tajik relations in the next decade, he said:

“We have extraordinary good relations thanks to our leaders. We are only 14 km away from Pakistan. Pakistan is an important strategic geopolitical partner of Tajikistan, and Pakistan will become one of the 10 strongest nations in the world soon. If we continue to work with the same pace we are doing today, I am pragmatic that Pak-Tajik friendly relations will be an example for others in the region.”