Author: Rahmonov Mirsaid
Tajikistan is one of the most beautiful Central Asian states wrapped by fascinating mountains. The capital of the country is Dushanbe, which is a modern, great historical ancient Aryan city on the Great Silk Road. Tajikistan bordered by Uzbekistan to the northwest, Kyrgyzstan to the east, Afghanistan to the south and parts of the eastern border to China, while the Pakistani Gilgit-Baltistan region is separated from Tajikistan by the Wakhan Strip. It is the territory in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan. The two countries are only 16 kilometers apart at their closest point.
The country got its independence on 9th September 1991 and faced the harsh internal instability and conflicts swiftly. But with the wisdom and sole admirable initiatives of its leader, people and cooperation and contribution of other countries including Russia, Pakistan the country got its Peace accord on 27th 1997 successfully. With such development Tajikistan got membership in many regional and global organizations including UN, CIS, SCO and ECO. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan and Russia first established diplomatic relations on May 1, 1948, and both countries celebrated their 70th anniversary in 2018. According to the documents, Russia is optimistic about the inclusion of Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and considers it in the interest of the development of the South Asian region and the world.
Expanding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan and Central Asian states will not only bring major geographical and political change in the region, but also give Central Asian countries cut off from the world access to hot water and the US and India's influence in the region almost will be reduced.
In this research work we mostly concentrate on importance of historical Silk Road and cooperation of Tajikistan and Pakistan in reviving of it. It mostly focuses on Tajikistan and Pakistan cooperation thru historical period of Silk Road and their role as member of SCO promoting public diplomacy in the region.
Pakistan was one of the first to recognize Tajikistan’s independence and at the same time opened its embassy in Dushanbe at the beginning of the year. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, diplomatic relations between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were established in June 1992, and they celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2022.
It is good to mention that the Silk Road connect Tajikistan via Gilgit, Shandor and Mastuja, which can also be used as an alternative route between both states. Additionally, the enormous reserves of gas and electricity reach the global market changing the economy of Pakistan and Tajikistan. Therefore the participation of Tajikistan in CPEC will maintain the products reach to other states, including Pakistan or vice versa in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible cost. The 2000 Summit of SCO in Tajikistan signed memoranda to oppose intervention in other countries and protecting human rights accordingly.
The northern Pakistan, roads follow the river systems and the valleys along with the Karakoram Highway that connects China with Pakistan. On the other side of the river at points, there’s a little trail that snakes across the side of the mountain. That is the original road, which is where the traders would bring stuff from Xinjiang across to Pakistan and beyond, into Central Asia.
There are a lot of opportunities in Tajkistan and Pakistan in these project.Both nations can develop economic relations with all over the world being the part of CPEC. It is known that Tajikistan and Pakistan share common membership in various multilateral organizations such as Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The two countries are also members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Such shared groupings between Pakistan and Tajikistan allow numerous opportunities for interaction to take place between the leaders, delegates, and diplomats of both countries. This is thus a contributory factor to the cordial relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan. Tajikistan uses the prospects providing by Pakistan’s seaports and present transit systems to increase trade. We all hope and understand the value of SCO Spirit and its member states working jointly to enhance the political, security, trade, economy, culture, and other main sectors for the prosperity of their people thru the use of public diplomacy.
The big example of regional transit connectivity is use of CASA-1000, an energy transfer project from Central Asia to South Asia transport electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan over a distance of 1,250 km. The project will allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to export 1,300 megawatts of surplus electricity annually to Pakistan through Afghanistan.
All links of Tajikistan and Pakistan show that both states struggle to revive the means and routes which were used thru historical Silk Road in ancient time. It is good to mention that the Silk Road had its glory days. It played main role during the Kushan Empire who ruled not only most of modern-day Afghanistan, but also parts of Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well.
According to research a huge volume of goods passed through Kushan hands, including silk from China, rubies and lapis lazuli from Badakhshan, spices, ivory and clothes from India, silverwork from the Persian empire, and finished goods from the Roman empire – gold, cut gems, glass vessels, amber, frankincense, asbestos cloth, amphorae and statues.
Silk Road traditions, such as leaving scraps of clothing on roadside shrines, still persist, and the main element of Afghan custom, hospitality, can still be owed to the glory days of the Silk Road, when the merchant from the foreign land had to be received with courtesy, since he might not only bring wealth, but a revelation of faith as well.
The route starts from Xinjiang in Western China, known to be an important stop on the old Silk Road, joining railway networks across five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) through to Western Asia across Iran, Iraq and Turkey before reaching the Mediterranean coast.
Accordingly to UNESCO sources the Silk Road became an important trade route and took significance as the beginnings of commercial relations between China and Western world.
As we mentioned that the enormous route of Eurasia was built over thousands of years and formed a unique synthesis of cultures and arts of hundreds of peoples. The modern Tajikistan with its people played a huge role in historical Silk Road. Analytical sources said that after the formation of the centralized Tajik state of the Samanids in the 9th century, the Central Asian region began to play a key role on the Great Silk Road. Diaries and notes of travelers, merchants and scientists, for example, "Safar-name" ("Book of Travels") by the Tajik philosopher Nosir Khusrav or "Surat-ul-Arz" by the Arab geographer Ibn Haukal, were original guidebooks of the early Middle Ages.
The significance of the overland trade route is noticeably fading, although some of its offshoots, called "capillary routes", existed until the beginning of the 20th century in the high-mountain junction connecting Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and India. Trade routes of antiquity invariably ran through the territory of modern Tajikistan. The Silk Road importance also mentioned in the article written by Mr. Mamadazimov Abdugani under the title of “NEW SILK DIPLOMACY IN THE CONTEXT OF RELATIONS OF ANCIENT CHINA WITH THE STATES OF WESTERN NATIONS”. The expert focused the Silk Road history, articulating that it was to the first big diplomatic mission of ancient China of the Han Empire to nomadic state Usun (Central Asia) and other countries of the "Western region". Efficiently Tajikistan and Pakistan continue their cooperation in the light of Historical Silk Road in the following aspects:
1. Use of technological potential in the development of IT.
2. Enhancing cooperation in the field of education and science, exchanging of students, trainees and undergraduates and the implementation of art and cultural programs.
3. Encourage public diplomacy within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to strengthen peace and harmony.
6. Strengthening economy, trade and cultural cooperation developing exchanges in the field of science, education and prevention of terrorism and extremism regionally and globally.
In this context, it is suggested that the states should work together and solve the issues using the following formula created by me as a module of peace, prosperity, and productivity for better cooperation and integration. The formula is derived from the English word of “PEACE” illustrates each letter a specific meaning as following:
Promotion – promotion of peace and stability
Economization – economic savings
Activation – activation of programs and projects
Cooperation – cooperation
Elimination – elimination of risks and threats
In conclusion, relations between Tajikistan and Pakistan based in the charter of historical Silk Road and continue with reviving trade, economical, energy and cultural development of the region and the world in laying the foundations for a pleasant life for the people.
By Rahmonov Mirsaid
Senior researcher and regional analyst
Institute of Asian and European studies
National academy of sciences of Tajikistan