A nation once located within the geopolitical confines of the Soviet Union and long overshadowed by the legacy of the Silk Road is now making ripples Internationally in the vast region of Central Asia. With its keen sense of geopolitics, Mackinder’s Heartland Kazakhstan has established itself as a key figure on the complex chessboard of the global landscape. Given its size, energy resources, political and ethnic stability, early and persistent dedication to the shift from a command to a market-based economy, and skillful diplomacy, it is only natural that Kazakhstan has taken the lead in recent endeavors. Kazakhstan is on a trajectory toward positioning itself as one of the globe’s most competitive developed nations.
Strong regional cooperation, characterised by a certain degree of integration, is envisioned by Kazakhstani leaders as a means of promoting coordination in the political, security, and other fields as well as the synchronisation of economic policies throughout the area. Above all, this strategy is seen as providing Kazakh companies with the opportunity to enter new markets and benefit from higher economies of scale brought about by better access to labor, money, and other production inputs. It is no accident that Kazakhstan has risen to the leadership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), both of which are strategically significant and timely. This well-thought-out action reflects the country’s resolve to promote social relations, security, and alliance during a turbulent time. Highlighting the relevancy of institutional frameworks, the journey of Kazakhstan can be studied from setting the founding stone of CICA to assuming its chairmanship role again in 2020 over the 30 years of its existence. With its chairmanship of CICA, Kazakhstan is assuming a global leadership position. Endorsing the notion of “Partnership for Security and Development in Asia”, Kazakhstan as the chair of CICA put in a great deal of work to organise the CICA Finance Summit, create the CICA Council on Sustainable Connectivity (CSC), and plan the CICA High-level Conference on Environmental Issues (HLCE), which is set to take place in Astana in 2024. These initiatives also include supporting volunteer movements in the CICA region and establishing the Partnership Network of Leading Universities of the CICA Member States (PNLU). Throughout the scope of CICA, Kazakhstan plays a significant role in directing the growth of the military-political component. In addition to enhancing its leadership position, Kazakhstan’s proactive involvement in mediating efforts during its tenure as chair of CICA—such as holding talks on the Iranian nuclear program—has increased the importance of its agenda in the Asian region. Hence, Asia’s changing significance in world affairs is shown by the transformation of CICA, which is being led by Kazakhstan. This transformation also acts as a reminder of member states’ commitment to a truly shared, interconnected, and comprehensive security framework throughout the largest continent.
Concurrently, Kazakhstan leaves its mark on the workings of the SCO, a powerful coalition that prioritises economic cooperation and security. Kazakhstan as the leading figure in SCO, wants to strengthen this platform’s position as a stabilising force in a geopolitical environment that is constantly changing. Kazakhstan is accomplishing this objective through cunning negotiating and a sophisticated grasp of the many interests within the organisation. From attending the SCO’s founding meeting in St. Petersburg in June 2001 to assuming its leadership role in July 2023, Kazakhstan utilises this cooperative forum not only to exhibit its leadership role in the “new Great Game” but also to control footprints of major powers such as China and Russia than doing bilateral relations with the powerful countries. Kazakhstan has advanced the goals of the SCO by assuming leadership four times since its founding in 2001. Kazakhstan is making a concerted effort to change the SCO into a practical and productive forum that promotes more trade and security cooperation. The nation is committed to tackling environmental issues and building closer ties in digital sphere. In addition to offering a global vision for a sustainable future, their emphasis aims to avert a geopolitical split between the East and the West. Kazakhstan, in its role as the organisation’s chair, is highlighting its commitment to updating the 2025–2027 Programme of Cooperation on Countering Terrorism, Separatism, and Extremism. Despite the SCO region’s advantages—geographical proximity, transit options, a sizable market, and economic synergy—the main barrier to the SCO’s success is its lack of noteworthy economic projects, which is mostly attributable to the absence of funding support mechanisms.
Analyzing Kazakhstan’s pertinence for regional connectivity, this nation made the decision to lead the charge for regional integration in order to take advantage of its landlocked condition rather than see it as a disadvantage. Kazakhstan adheres to the “extended neighborhood” theory in its foreign policy, which holds that the prosperity of Kazakhstan is correlated with that of its region and neighboring countries. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, conveyed his appreciation to Kazakhstan during the CICA Summit in June 2022 for its role in advancing regional security and cooperation as well as economic ties, energy security, and cultural exchanges.
Kazakhstan’s ascent to prominence in the CICA and SCO highlights the country’s determination to define its own destiny within the larger framework of international politics. In a nutshell, this article recognizes Kazakhstan’s strategic prowess in transcending its historical background to become a significant architect of stability in the heart of Eurasia, which may highlight the relevance of Kazakhstan’s emerging role of leadership.