This article is part of our special report Kazakhstan: Preserving stability.

Kazakhstan was quick to respond to the series of devastating quakes in Herat province of Afghanistan, guided by compassion, a timeless principle that should guide our actions in times of crisis, writes Alibek Bakayev.

Alibek BAKAYEV is the deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The recent series of powerful earthquakes in Herat province has left a trail of destruction and despair. Yet, Kazakhstan was quick to respond.

Our operational search team promptly acted, demonstrating our unwavering dedication to helping those in dire need. Importantly, none of our fellow citizens, including those involved in the rescue efforts, sustained injuries during their mission.

In times of crisis, it is both our duty and privilege as public servants to lead by example, showing unwavering commitment to helping those who are vulnerable.

Our commitment to the Afghan people is not tied to the ever-changing political landscape. It stands as a testament to the enduring nature of our support, reflecting Kazakhstan’s dedication to providing humanitarian assistance and fostering strong ties.

In a world often consumed by politics and borders, there exists a timeless principle that should guide our actions in times of crisis: compassion.

Today, as the Afghan people contend with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, we wish to underscore the enduring bond between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan that transcends political frontiers.

This bond is firmly founded on compassion, collaboration, and trade partnerships, with a primary focus on prioritizing the well-being of the people above all else.

The power of compassion

On 11 October, a massive cargo delivery of over 1600 tons arrived in Herat province, Afghanistan. This delivery included essentials like food, tents, clothing, and bedding, serving as a lifeline to those affected by a catastrophic earthquake.

What makes this gesture truly significant is that it represents Kazakhstan’s enduring tradition of generosity and human kindness.

This humanitarian aid is not a mere matter of policy; it is a genuine expression of our nation’s heart. Our shared humanity calls us to extend a helping hand to those in dire need.

Kazakh rescue teams have successfully cleared 76 locations of debris from demolished houses in the Naibrofi district. Additionally, staff from the Disaster Medicine Center have been providing essential medical aid to the local population.

Notably, the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry has dispatched an operational and rescue unit to Afghanistan. Comprising 45 members, each with extensive experience in similar missions, this team is well-equipped for search and rescue operations.

It consists of skilled canine handlers, medical professionals, and paramedics from the Disaster Medicine Center.

“Firstly, we would like to thank the people of Kazakhstan, the country’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who provided assistance to us in this difficult time.

After accepting humanitarian aid, a special commission will discuss and decide where it will be sent. Now we are burying the dead and providing first aid to the injured. If there are any more affected, we are ready to assist them as well.

This morning at 5 a.m. local time, another earthquake was recorded in the area where Kazakh rescuers are engaged in search and rescue efforts,” said Garhwal Abdul Sattar, spokesperson for the Earthquake Response Headquarters in Afghanistan on October 12.

Support from neighbors and international solidarity

Central Asian counterparts, particularly Uzbekistan, have joined hands in solidarity, providing more than 100 tons of essential aid to the Afghan people. Our neighbors’ involvement reflects our shared commitment to prioritize the well-being of individuals, regardless of their nationality.

This support goes beyond immediate relief; it’s about building a foundation of hope and resilience for the Afghan people. It’s a pledge to accompany them on the path to recovery and rebuilding, regardless of the time it takes.

Furthermore, our dedication to the well-being of the Afghan populace aligns with a wider global initiative aimed at alleviating their distress. As an example, Australia has earmarked $1 million in assistance to aid the residents of Afghanistan in the aftermath of the destructive earthquake in Herat Province.

This calamity has intensified the preexisting severe humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, impacting 29.2 million individuals in critical need.

Transition to trade and economic relations

Our commitment to Afghanistan goes beyond compassion and solidarity; it also encompasses a strong trade relationship that contributes to the economic growth and stability of both our nations. A perfect example of this is the Kazakh-Afghan Business Forum, which took place on August 2-4, 2023 in Astana.

The history of trade relations between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan is noteworthy, particularly the significant exports of flour. Kazakhstan aims to increase bilateral trade, surpassing the $988 million recorded last year and eventually reaching a goal of $3 billion.

The trade extends to a diverse range of goods, including flour, wheat, sunflower oil, and more. This substantial exchange of goods reflects a mutually beneficial partnership.

Diversification of trade routes and perspective of cooperation

Diversifying trade routes is essential for improved competitiveness and creating opportunities for businesses across various sectors. New transportation and logistics routes, including access to the Pakistani market and ports, are instrumental in this regard.

Kazakhstan’s interest in establishing new trade routes to Pakistan via Afghanistan and the agreements with key players underline our commitment to diversifying and expanding trade channels.

The energy sector presents promising avenues for cooperation. Kazakhstan is one of the largest oil and gas producers in the region. This cooperation may lead to projects related to the production and transportation of energy carriers, bolstering the economies of both nations.

Additionally, there are opportunities for imports from Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and high-quality Afghan carpets. Such collaborations contribute to the strengthening of both countries’ economies and underline the multifaceted nature of our relationship.