View Full Version : Ties with Turkmenistan - Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik - 26 March 2016

26th March 2016, 11:55 AM
Pakistan has friendly and eternal ties with Turkmenistan ever since its independence in 1991. Both are cooperating in many fields. Turkmenistan is an energy grid for the economy and industry of Pakistan. These potential are realized lately after concrete measures were being taken. Economic prospects are bright between the two nations.
Pakistan offers lucrative energy trade to Turkmenistan as transit to India as well as the deep-sea port facilities at Gwadar to link up the landlocked Turkmenistan to get sea access to the Arabian Sea for trade and energy outlets. Turkmenistan is an important pillar of Pakistan Vision 2025 and its regional connectivity. The mutual cooperation is entering into a new phase.
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov undertook a two-day visit to Pakistan on 16-17 March. He was accorded a rousing welcome. This is the third meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Gurbanguly, which indicates the rapid growth of diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries. Earlier, Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif visited Ashgabad in May and in December last.
The relations between Pakistan and Turkmenistan are real game-changer in the regional-connectivity sense. Both countries agreed to uplift bilateral ties in many directions as well as to counter terrorism and cooperate in energy. The menace of terrorism “also undermines our endeavours for socio-economic development. We have to work collectively to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and extremism, “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the reporters at a joint press conference with President Gurbanguly at Islamabad. The latter reciprocated that “combating common threats is our goal”.
Pakistan is committed to the early completion of the TAPI gas pipeline as close as by 2019. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told that “TAPI not only as a gas pipeline project, but as a precursor to making it a trade and transit corridor as well”. “Such corridor could comprise gas pipeline, road, electricity transmission and fibber optic lines besides economic zones connecting Pakistan with Turkmenistan,” he said. He further said the TAPI is a mega project, which will help energy starved industry of Pakistan run at its full potential.
He suggested that Pakistan and Turkmenistan should be connected with a rail link as well as Iran and Kazakhstan should also join this rail link. Based upon peace and connectivity, ties between the two countries would lay down the foundation of a solid cooperation in the days and years ahead.
Ties with Turkmenistan have been already been strengthened as the TAPI pipeline has been kicked off in December last. The tripartite agreed was signed between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to lay down gas pipe line of 1814 km long from Galkynysh gas field inTurkmenistan to Fazilka in India. The TAPI gas pipeline would greatly help in reducing energy shortage in Pakistan.
During the present visit, both sides seriously reviewed the progress being made on the TAPI project since last December such as technicalities and security and the situation in Afghanistan. A large part of the TAPI comes on Pakistan’s soil (827 km). The project is on track. The work on the project will be started from January 2017 and is likely to be completed by 2019.
This is a gas regional connectivity building a new momentum of confidence between Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and India. Pakistan also signed a MoU to import 1000 MW electricity from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan.
During this visit eight accords have been signed between the public and private sectors including curbing of money-laundering, tackling terrorism, MoU’s included: The Programme of Cooperation 2016-17 between the ministries of foreign affairs, cooperation in exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing, cooperation in the field of energy, MoU between the National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Pakistan and Magtymguly Turkmen State University, MoU between COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management (TSIEM).
The Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies (IPDS), Pakistan signed two separate MoUs with an international University for Humanities and Development (IUHD), Ashgabat and Institute of International Relations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkmenistan (IIT).
At the moment bilateral trade is quite low and is around US$ 25 million, which will likely to be increased following energy projects. The wealthy oil and gas rich Turkmenistan is not a visible investor in Pakistan. This trend needs to be reversed. Under the changed scenario, Turkmenistan’s companies might be taking interest to invest in Pakistan.
The LPG import from Turkmenistan is a potential area. Pharmaceutical, medicine, mines and mineral, marble, agriculture, and sports goods are potential areas of Turkmenistan’s investors. Business chambers of both countries should explore such investment and trade potentials. With these prospects together with energy trade, ties between Pakistan and Turkmenistan would reach new heights.

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.