Pakistan, especially after Shahbaz Sharif became Prime Minister, has focused on implementing a multi-faceted and multidimensional foreign policy that takes into account the balances between power centers. The priority of the Islamabad administration here is to deepen the economic-commercial relations in terms of both overcoming the economic crisis in the country and establishing the economic dependence, which is the main driving force of interstate relations. In this context, Central Asia constitutes one of the aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Undoubtedly, this situation is compatible with the foreign policy concepts of the regional states, which stand out with their multi-vector foreign policy understanding. Therefore, it is possible to state that the Central Asian republics are also willing to develop relations with Pakistan. Central Asian states believe that they need to reach the oceans in order to reach their potential for global trade. Pakistan is the gateway of Central Asia to the Indian Ocean.
Of course, this situation shows that there is not only an economic dependence between the parties, but also a geographical dependency. This is also very important geopolitically, as it brings the parties to attach importance to each other.
As it can be understood, Islamabad’s relations with Central Asian capitals are critical for the operation of South-Asia-Central Asia-West Asia connectivity and thus regional and interregional integration processes. In this sense, it can be argued that the Trans-Afghan Corridor is an important project. Similarly, it can be said that the discussions regarding the extension of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway Project, which is currently under construction, to Pakistan are also important.
In this context, Islamabad is making an effort to improve its relations with the regional capitals. For this reason, it is necessary to mention the relations of Islamabad with the countries of the region. First of all, to talk about Kazakhstan, it can be said that the parties are in search of a strong cooperation in terms of trade. The announcement that a “Preferential Trade Agreement” will be signed between the two countries on 18 November 2022 confirms this. It is also known that Pakistan, which is foreign-dependent in terms of energy, desires to develop energy relations with Kazakhstan. This means a win-win-based cooperation for both parties. As a matter of fact, the goal of increasing the trade volume between the parties, which was 197 million dollars in 2022, to 1 billion dollars reveals that both sides see trade relations as the driving force of bilateral relations. Geopolitically, it is obvious that Pakistani ports offer Kazakhstan the opportunity to open to the Arabian Sea.
It can be stated that the two countries desire to develop economic and cultural relations in the Kyrgyzstan dimension. The opening of a Kyrgyz Trade House in Lahore, Pakistan confirms this. In addition, both Islamabad and Bishkek are in favor of expanding the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway to include Pakistan.
In the dimension of Uzbekistan, it is possible to talk about economic-commercial relations prioritizing mutual interests. As a matter of fact, the parties’ decision to implement the “Preferential Trade Agreement” as of February 2023 stems from this..
Relations with Tajikistan, another Central Asian country, are among the issues that Pakistan attaches importance to. For this reason, the Islamabad administration hosted the President of Tajikistan, Imamali Rahman, on 14-15 March 2023. The visit in question focused on logistics issues, from economic relations to corridors and especially in the context of access to the Indian Ocean, as in relations with other regional states. In addition, it was mentioned that the parties could improve their bilateral cooperation in the dimensions of the fight against radicalization and terrorism.
Finally, at the point of Turkmenistan, it can be said that the relations on the Islamabad-Ashgabat line have a constructive content. In this regard, it can be stated that Pakistan’s energy needs play a decisive role. In this context, it can be stated that Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TAPI) and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Energy Transmission Line and Fiber Optic Communication Lines Project come to the fore. Moreover, this project reveals that the parties are willing to develop a relationship that centers on regional cooperation, security and welfare.
The main obstacle for the relations to reach their potential is the instability originating from Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, this situation was also expressed by Pakistani Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on February 18, 2023, and Khar stated that the situation in Afghanistan made it difficult for Pakistan to reach its potential in its relations with Central Asia. Therefore, the parties seek cooperation in the solution of the Afghan Problem.
As a result, Pakistan offers the Central Asian states a great opportunity to open up to the oceans. On the other hand, it wants to expand and deepen its commercial relations with the states of the region and sees these countries as partners, especially in terms of energy policies. The establishment of relations on a much healthier ground requires Afghanistan’s stability. This means that it is important for the parties to develop a collective will for the solution of the Afghan Question. In fact, the diplomacy carried out by the actors regarding the Afghan Problem reveals that there is a common effort in this regard.
 Şeyma Kızılay, “Economic Developments in Pakistan-Kazakhstan Relations”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/economic-developments-in-pakistan-kazakhstan-relations/?lang=en, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2023).
 “Trade House of Kyrgyzstan Opened in Pakistan”, Kabar, http://en.kabar.kg/news/trade-house-of-kyrgyzstan-opened-in-pakistan/, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2023).
 Emrah Kaya, “Orta Asya-Pakistan Arasında Derinleşen İlişkiler ve Afganistan’a Yansıması”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/orta-asya-pakistan-arasinda-derinlesen-iliskiler-ve-afganistana-yansimasi/, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2023).
 “Pakistan Aspires to ‘Establish Energy, Road Links with Central Asia’”, International The News, https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1020032-pakistan-aspires-to-establish-energy-road-links-with-central-asia, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2023).
 “Pakistan trade with central Asia relies on Afghanistan”, Afghanistan Times, https://www.afghanistantimes.af/pakistan-trade-with-central-asia-relies-on-afghanistan/, (Date of Accession: 15.03.2023).