ISLAMABAD-After collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan declared its independence on December 16, 1991. The country has been swiftly moving towards prosperity and development since its independence under the leadership of Noor Sultan Nazarbayev and stands today as one of the strongest economies in the region. As an important player in the new global world, its sustainable economic policies are in the interests of all and strengthen its reputation in the International community.

To celebrate the 27th anniversary of the independence of Republic of Kazakhstan, Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov hosted an impressive reception at a local hotel in Islamabad. The chief guest on the occasion was Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi while Chairman Board of Investment Haroon Sharif was the guest of honour. All the central Asian countries ambassadors including Turkmenistan’s ambassador Atadjan Movlamov, Uzbek ambassador Furkat A Sidikov, Azerbaijan ambassador Ali Alizade, Tajikistan’s Ambassador Janonov SherAli, Kyrgyz ambassador Erik Beishembiev and various other ambassadors, diplomats, businessmen and civilians also attended the event. National anthems of both the countries were played and cake-cutting ceremony was held by the guests.

National day of Kazakhstan was celebrated in a very different way and arguably it was one of the best diplomatic receptions of 2018 by all means because the ambassador of Kazakhstan put his heart and mind to make the event a memorable one. As a regular participant of diplomatic receptions, I can judge that extraordinary efforts are being made to bring the two countries closer to each other and the ambassador showed keen interest in developing strong bond with people and government of Pakistan.

The future of Pakistan seems very bright as leader of central Asian countries; Kazakhstan is showing interest in Pakistan. There was a time when central Asian countries were interested in Pakistan and were eager to restore the old religious, cultural and trade links with Pakistan and also exchange of high-level visits of their president and prime ministers were their main priority but with passage of time, the relations started declining but this glorious event of independence day truly reflected that Kazakhstan had taken a great initiative to revive the old linkages and turn both sides’ relations into a meaningful engagement.

The hall was jam-packed and seating arrangement was not made on the stage. All the prominent guests were sitting at the front of the stage. Beautiful melodious songs were sung by cultural troupe form Kazakhstan and they also astonished the audience by singing Pakistani famous song ‘Sohni Dharti’.

People exchanged views on various national and international issues on the occasion. Many were of the view that corruption had become a burning issue all across the world. A group of African ambassadors while talking about South Africa’s Election in May, 2019 said that South Africa was among relatively few African countries that held regular democratic elections with high levels of integrity. One diplomat opined that corruption of Jacob Zuma had changed political scenario of South Africa and the ANC, which was founded by Nelson Mandela and has held power since end of apartheid in 1994; recorded its worst electoral performance might lose next election which would be a big turn in the history of South Africa.

Former MNA Kashmala Tariq was also there. She is a very soft spoken and humble lady and because of her charismatic personality, she was centre of attention for all the guests. People were eager to meet her and wanted to have a photo with her.

Ali Haider Zaidi is a man of great intellect and vision. He is amiable and takes keen interest in meeting people and exchanging views. He also made a short speech in which he appreciated Kazakhstan efforts to reduce poverty and achieving 100% literacy rate. He said that Pakistan should follow them to fight poverty and growing the literacy rate. He conveyed his best wishes to president of Kazakhstan and said that we are planning to build expressway and welcome Kazakhstan government to use our port. He said that by this, our trade will grow with Central Asian countries in coming years.

Barlybay Sadykov is a dynamic, energetic and intellectual man. His efforts to promote trade and investment between Pakistan and Kazakhstan are remarkable .In his thought-provoking speech, he said that in 27 years of independence under the leadership of president Noor Sultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan had seen unparalleled progress and had become an example of stable  economic growth and stability. Today we are a dynamically-developing country and the largest economy in central Asia and are ambitious to join top developed economies of the world in 2050.

Kazakhstan, he said, is global partner of various national and international organisations of peace and security and actively involved in countering terrorism. More than 500 years ago, he said, our ancestors maintained close historical, cultural, religious and economic ties with the people south Asian countries and we are also committed to strengthen this bond of friendship and heritage and to enhance Kazak-Pakistan partnership for mutual benefits.

Pakistan, he said, was the first country to recognise Kazakhstan after independence in 1991 and it was Pakistan where our president paid the first visit. Since very beginning, he said, our relations with Pakistan are based on mutual respect and we are supporting each other on international forums. Both the countries have similar stance on major global issues and we easily see this in our cooperation in United Nations, OIC, Asia Europe forum and many other forums.

He also mentioned former prime minister of Pakistan’s participation in Astana Summit last year where Pakistan gained full membership of SCO and Kazakhstan always supported Pakistan participation in SCO. He said that OIC had planned to develop science and technology sector for Muslim countries.

We look forward to enhancing this cooperation and our trade and economic cooperation is increasing to the largest landlocked countries to lead economies. Both the countries have great potential to develop regional cooperation by connecting central and south Asia. He said that looking back to his visit to Pakistan 25 years ago and comparatively today, he appreciated the development Pakistan has made in socio-economic sector. Pakistan sends troops in peace keeping missions, Pakistan fights terrorism and we idealise Pakistan’s contribution in this regard, he said.

In today’s world, international and regional strategic scenario is changing. There is a need that both the countries should take concrete steps to improve regional and economic cooperation.

Implementation of the plan of direct flights for improving trade relations is necessary. Simplifying the visa process and banking relations can also help to promote bilateral trade and investment, he said.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi, Kazakh Ambassador Barlybay Sadykov and others cutting cake to mark Kazakhstan Independence Day on Saturday.