Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on the sidelines of One Belt, One Road Forum where the matter of the discussion was to further enhance the already developing bilateral relations. Importantly, Mr. Lukashenko, has invited Mr. Nawaz Sharif for another visit to Belarus; Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also visited Belarus last year.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has a major role to play in bringing the two nations closer to each other and opening doors to Eastern Europe for Pakistan. Since the inauguration of CPEC- the flagship project of One Belt One Road Initiative- many European countries are showing keen interest in Pakistan. However, most progress has been made on the relations between Belarus and Pakistan. There have been regular high-level official visits between Pakistan and Belarus, reflective of the growing partnership between Pakistan and Belarus.

The 3rd round of Pakistan-Belarus Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) was held in Minsk on May 11-12, 2017. The two sides undertook a inclusive review of bilateral ties and agreed to boost cooperation in diverse spheres, particularly in the fields of commerce, trade, economy, investment, industry, agriculture, energy, IT, science and technology, education, culture, tourism, defence and parliamentary exchanges.

Eastern Europe, as defined by the United Nations includes Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia, as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The countries are making remarkable progress and are in transition from being emerging economies to developed economies. Eastern Europe and Central Europe not only form an accommodating market for trade but also play an integral role in linking the European and Asian countries and help promote cooperation between the European Union and Asia. Furthermore, the increasing cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe is expected to facilitate the construction of a Silk Road Economic Belt. Pakistan can take great advantage of its growing friendship with Belarus and penetrate into the European markets through the conduit provided by East Europe.

Belarus also has strong ties with Russia; both the countries have close trading relations and have been diplomatic allies since the breakup of the Soviet Union. In 1995, Russia and Belarus were united into a “union state”, a measure that completely eliminates border controls. Although, recently there have been some hiccups between the two countries but they are still strong.

Belarus can be instrumental in bringing Russia and Pakistan closer to each other. Russia is also looking to improve relations with Pakistan especially after initiation of CPEC, as development of Gwadar and access to warm waters is a great attraction for Russia. Furthermore, the Pakistani economy is fast growing and with a market size of 200 million, offers great opportunities for investments. Belarus can be seen as major player in bridging the gap between Pakistan and Russia.

CPEC is bringing Pakistan lots of attraction from many countries worldwide and it has enhanced the standing of Pakistan in the global arena. Belarus is one example, there are other countries like England, France, Germany, and Australia. In fact Prime Minister Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has said that 52 countries have shown interest in CPEC. CPEC would be huge gain for the economy of Pakistan and Pakistan could emerge as a strong regional player provided Pakistan is able to implement it in an efficient and effective manner. Furthermore, it will also open the way for further cooperation while simultaneously adhering to the principles of openness and inclusiveness in global economic development. CPEC, can indeed be a game changer for Pakistan and also could bring stability in the region if executed successfully.