ISLAMABAD - Ambassador designate of Uzbekistan to Pakistan Furkat Sidikov and his spouse Madam Gulchekhra Sidikova hosted a grand reception to mark the 24th Independence Day of his country at a local hotel in Islamabad.

Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan was the chief guest while Mian Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, State Minister for Education, Jam Kamal Khan, Minister of State for Petroleum, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman Defense Committee in Senate, Nuzhat Sadiq, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee in Senate, Gen (Retd) Ahsan ul Haq, Lft Gen. Asad Duraani, Pir Naqeeb ur Rehman, Abdul Rauf Alam, former President ICCI, Atif Ikram, President ICCI, Ch Muhammad Nawaz, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Humayun Parvaiz, President Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and Industry were the few prominent participants of the reception.

Khurram Dastagir Khan is very humble in meeting others but at the same time very dynamic to promote the business and economical relations with other countries. He is always looking for opportunities for the business communities to provide them level playing field to promote export of Pakistan. He informed that this month he is going to Brussels to attend a meeting regarding trade with the European Union.

Talking about the direct air link with the Central Asian Republics, he was hopefull that direct air link between Pakistan and Dushanbe would be established very soon.

The flight time from Islamabad to Dushanbe is one hour while presently it takes twenty four hours via Dubai which is painful and expensive also.

The Ambassador of Tajikistan, Sher Ali Jononov, informed that single country exhibition of Pakistan would be held in Dushanbe on October 28 till November 1, 2015. He further said that Pakistan Tajikistan business forum would also be organised in Dushanbe on this occasion and it is expected that Khurram Dastagir Khan would grace this occasion.

The Ambassador of Azarbaijan, Dashgin Shikarov, informed that the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Rashad Mehmood would visit Azerbaijan next month. Two direct air flights between Islamabad and Baku every week has been started from the October 3. Shikarov said that this direct air link has made it possible for the visitors between the two countries to reach the destination within three hours while previously this route was very difficult and time consuming. He was hopeful that this direct air link would promote business and economic activities between the two countries.

The Ambassador of Russia, Alexy .y. Dedov, while talking about the airstrike in Syria on Daish, said that these airstrikes would contribute to bring peace in Syria and would solve the influx of immigration from Syria to the world in real sense.

Abdul Rauf Alam, former president of ICCI was also present. He came directly from FBR where he attended a meeting. He was of the opinion that the unlimited powers which have been given to the FBR officials should be reduced. He said a prominent business leader Naeem Siddiqui is still languishing in jail by the FBR which is very painful for the business community of Pakistan.

Furkat Sidikov, the designated ambassador of Uzbekistan is a very healthy edition to the Uzbek embassy as the previous ambassador who spent three years in Islamabad was not able to communicate with the Pakistani community as he was not fluent in English. Furkat Sidikov appears to be a very dynamic and active ambassador and just within few days of his arrival he is trying to revive the Uzbek embassy contact which were established during the time of Aybek Usmanov and Shahrat Kabalov. Furkut has served five years as Press Attache at the Uzbek Embassy in Washington DC, and has also worked at the state-run International Centre for Strategic Studies and Inter-regional Cooperation in Tashkent.

Zaheerud Din Baber, founder of the Mughal dynasty in subcontinent was from Uzbekistan and from the descendent of Amir Taimoor who is the national hero of Uzbekistan. Zaheerud Din Baber by establishing Mughal dynasty in the subcontinent, he made first the foundation of Pakistan which is a great contribution from Uzbekistan to Pakistan. Islam to subcontinent came through Central Asia and especially from Uzbekistan that is the real strong bond between the two nations and the two countries. Uzbekistan is a land locked country and could be benefited by the Gawadar port and economic corridor which could be extended to Tashkent. Uzbek is a great nation with a great history and has very special relations with Pakistan. Unfortunately, the war in Afghanistan and the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan was not conducive to establish a road link between the two countries but it is expected that a peaceful Afghanistan without foreign influence would play a very positive role to improve trade from Pakistan and the rest of the world to central Asia specially Uzbekistan and beyond.

Pakistan was the third country to open its embassy in Uzbekistan while the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was the first non CIS airline to fly there. Unfortunately, the direct air link between Pakistan and Uzbekistan by PIA was discontinued after a short span of time. Later on the Uzbek airline also started flights between Lahore and Tashkent which was also disrupted in 2013. It is very important to start direct air link between Islamabad and Dushanbe by PIA or Uzbek Airline to make this flight operative. It is important that both countries should issue sufficient visa to make this flight commercially viable. Civil Aviation Authority is also not well aware of the importance of direct air link from Pakistan to the rest of the world. There are many Arab airlines from Dubai which are flying to Tashkent and they can make a stopover in Islamabad which can provide direct air link between Islamabad and Uzbekistan like Turkish airline which is flying from Istanbul to Islamabad via Baku.

-The writer is a freelance contributor.