Regional Scenario: Central Asian ‘Muslim’ states fear Pakistan – by Shiraz Paracha

Central Asia’s richest and largest state Kazakhstan is following a strict visa policy for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the same time offering further relaxations in visa regulations to nationals from Western and several non-Western countries.

Pakistan has an image problem in the former Soviet republics. The current floods and the continuing violence has further exacerbated Pakistan’s image. To the people of Central Asia and other countries in the region Pakistan is a trouble spot.

It is an irony that the six “Muslim” Central Asian states prefer to keep a distance from Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan played a crucial role in their independence.

Following the split of the Soviet Union, Pakistani military generals thought that they would control poor and backward Central Asia. The plan was to bring the six Central Asian states under the Pakistan’s sphere of influence. Time has proved how wrong the Pakistani generals were. In the early 1990s, Pakistan took Central Asia for granted. Islamabad looked down at Central Asian countries. Now it is the other way round. Many Central Asians pity Pakistan. Almost every day, they watch television and realize that Pakistan is home to millions of hungry, poor and helpless people. Central Asians fear that troubles from Pakistan can come into their societies. …

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