Yerzhan Kistafin, ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Pakistan, has all along remained very serious in the promotion of bilateral cooperation and economic relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan. He hectically pursued when an Uzbek trade delegation visited Pakistan several weeks back, facilitating its interaction with Pakistani counterparts and even personally accompanying it in its visit to Karachi, managing, besides other engagements, a meeting of Uzbek traders with Governor Sindh. “We take Pakistan as an important regional country and a potential trading partner. We have (also) been maintaining strong cultural and diplomatic relations with Pakistan,” observed Kistafin while addressing a function arranged by All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) in honour of the visiting Kazakh delegation in Islamabad. The ambassador was not unleashing empty rhetoric when he spoke of his country’s strong desire to promote friendly tied with Pakistan. Kazakhstan and Pakistan have been making constant efforts to consolidate their fraternal relations. It is through Afghanistan and Pakistan that Kazakhstan can reach out to the subcontinent, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Kazakhstan, like the other Central Asian and Eurasian republics, became independent when the erstwhile Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Before that, all these states were integral parts of the Socialist empire. Pakistan was among the first few countries that recognized Kazakhstan as an independent and sovereign state. The very next year, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited Islamabad on which occasion Pakistan and Uzbekistan formally kick-started their diplomatic relations. This was followed by visits of Pakistani Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto in 1995, Yousuf Raza Gillani in 2011 and Nawaz Sharif in 2015 to Kazakhstan. Former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also visited the Central Asian republic in 2011. Besides these high-level visits, both sides have also exchanged several ministerial and parliamentary visits on different occasions. Traders and investors from the two countries have been occasionally exchanging visits during which closer entrepreneurship has been promoted. Kazakhstan is not only the biggest among the five Central Asian states, it is also the largest landlocked country in the world. In the past, it had been interacting with the outside world under the mechanism of the Soviet Union. It was after the full independence of the republic in the last decade of the previous century that it started establishing diplomatic, political and economic relations with regional and world countries. Today, Kazakhstan has bilateral relations with almost all important countries of the world. In the region, Kazakhstan has been giving special preference to its relations with China, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Traditionally, Kazakhstan has remained at the heart of the Great Silk Road, connecting the European countries in the west to China and India in the east. The changing geopolitics of the present era has not only further increased the importance of the neighbouring countries in the eyes of Kazakhstan but also made the latter a crucial country linking the whole region. Pakistan and Afghanistan are of special significance in Kazakhstan’s plan for the expansion of its regional interaction. It is through these two countries that Kazakhstan can reach out to the subcontinent, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. In this way, Kazakhstan’s wish for a closer relationship with Pakistan does not have only bilateral connotations but the latter also serves as a springboard for reaching out to the regional and world countries. Kazakhstan also possesses rich oil and gas reservoirs in its Caspian Sea coastal region, which, if tapped and exported, will not only help boost the republic’s economy itself but will also provide cheaper energy to the gas-deficient Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries of the region. It is with this background that Pakistan and Kazakhstan have signed 35 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for boosting cooperation in diverse fields. The same spirit was visible during the recent visit of the Kazakh delegation to Islamabad. In its interaction with the Pakistani entities, the Uzbek traders sought joint ventures in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, plastic, food processing, agriculture, steel industry and high-tech machinery. Though Pakistan’s share in bilateral trade is very low, with a little effort, this partnership can be made a win-win phenomenon for both sides. During its interaction with the Kazakh delegation, the APBF leaders were quoted as saying that they are trying to explore new avenues to increase the cooperative relationship between the two sides. However, the fact remains that stronger political, trade and economic bonds of the Central Asian states with Pakistan hinge on the restoration of reliable peace and stability in Afghanistan. After all, it is through Afghanistan that all these regional countries can establish the easiest and cheapest land links with each other. All the regional countries and Afghanistan are quite alive to that requirement. The Central Asian republics and Pakistan are making collective efforts for the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the laying of rail and road networks across the country. Trans-Afghan Railway Corridor is one such plan. In December 2021, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia held the meeting of their Joint Working Group (JWG) through a video link at which they reiterated their commitment to the $4.8 billion projects. Trans-Afghan Railway Corridor envisages laying of Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar rail track. While there is a functioning rail track in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and even up to the Torkham border near Peshawar in Pakistan, the two routes of the corridor i.e. from Mazar-e-Sharif to Kabul and from Kabul to Torkham, are yet to be constructed. Pakistan and Uzbekistan have already agreed to start feasibility studies and construction work on the project. What is needed now is to create a conducive environment in Afghanistan and reach out to international financial institutions (IFIs) to secure funds for the project. Once completed this regional rail network will provide the most secure and shortest connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia. The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad covering South Asia/ Central Asia.