After the collapse of the USSR, Tajikistan gained independence in 1991. Pakistan is one of the first countries that recognized Tajikistan. Subsequently, formal diplomatic relations between the two Muslim and brotherly countries were established in 1992 and a new chapter of Pakistan-Tajikistan Relations began.
Geographically, the 16 kilometers wide narrow Wakhan Corridor makes Pakistan and Tajikistan apart. The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of Afghanistan that borders China and makes Pakistan and Tajikistan apart. During the post-independence unrest in Tajikistan in 1992 and the Soviet-Afghan war, scores of Tajik refugees, around 1.2 million, settled in Pakistan. Although the accommodation of Tajik refugees cost billions of dollars to Pakistan, however, Pakistan has always extended her helping hand towards Tajikistan and always provided the latter land and sea routes.
Pakistan and Tajikistan share scores of cultural, religious and historical links. Modern Tajikistan and Pakistan were once under the Umayyad Caliphate in the 8th century. Later, parts of Pakistan and the entire landmass of modern Tajikistan fell under the Persian Samanid rule. Furthermore, the official language of the Mughal Empire was Persian, and then India was greatly influenced by the Arab and Persian cultures.
One of the major and core components of Pakistan’s foreign policy is to develop and maintain warm and cordial brotherly relations with Muslim majority countries. Pakistan and Tajikistan share common membership in many international bodies and organizations such as OIC, ECO, SCO and Heart of Asia-Istanbul process.
The QTTA transit trade deal between China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan is to assist and boost trade and traffic activities in the region. The Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) is specifically aimed at giving access to the central Asian states and China to Pakistani warm water ports.
In 2017, Tajikistan approached Pakistan to join the QTTA. Moreover, in May 2020, the incumbent Deputy Premier of Uzbekistan, Sardor Umurzakov, also entreated Pakistan to help and support its accession to QTTA. Pakistan assured her support for the in-principle approval of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan’s accession to the QTTA.
The CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Program) is an important project between Pakistan and Tajikistan. Moreover, CASA-1000 is a direct link between Pakistan and Tajikistan. Tajikistan is one of the biggest producers of hydroelectricity in the world. CASA-1000 is an energy accord between Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Under CASA-1000, Pakistan was supposed to receive 1000 megawatt electricity directly from Tajikistan.
However, Afghanistan backed off from the agreement by saying that they no longer have a shortage of energy, therefore, upon the completion of the project Pakistan will now receive 1300 megawatt. The groundbreaking ceremony of the project was held in 2016 and it is expected to be completed in 2023. Moreover, in 2008, Pakistan and Tajikistan have also inked inter-governmental accord for cooperation in the field of energy.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan’s Gwadar deep seaport will connect Pakistan with Tajikistan through different routes. One will be via Peshawar-Kabul-Dushanbe and the second will be via Gilgit-Chitral-Eshkhahim-Dushanbe and the third and most important route will be via Gilgit-Chitral-Kashgar-Erkeshtam-Dushanbe bypassing Afghanistan.
Furthermore, Pakistan, Afganistan and Tajikistan have also inked PATTTTA agreement. The CPEC and PATTTTA transit agreement will bring prosperity to the region by building and connecting the countries through direct rail, road and air routes.
To further strengthen and enhance Pakistan and Tajikistan relations, both the brotherly countries have to focus and complete the past projects and agreements. Furthermore, as stated earlier, the bond between the two countries can be further strengthened by constructing rail, road and direct air routes. Secondly, the CPEC project is a great opportunity for Tajikistan to get access to the Arabian Sea and the wider world via Pakistani warm water deep seaports.