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    Wednesday, July 5, 2017

    Pakistan, Tajikistan agree on exploring ties in trade, energy, defence sectors

    With a focus on regional connectivity, trade and energy, Pakistan and Tajikistan on Wednesday agreed on exploring new avenues of cooperation by increasing collaboration in economy, defence and security, agriculture and education.
    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in the Tajik capital on a two-day official visit, along with President Emomali Rahmon inked the Joint Declaration aimed at enhancing regional connectivity between the two countries and the region at large.
    The two leaders emphasised close collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan both at the government and people level, besides giving a further boost to their bilateral relations.
    The two leaders also witnessed inking of Memorandum of Understanding on trade cooperation. Minister for Commerce Ghulam Dastgir Khan signed the MoU on trade cooperation along with Tajik Minister of Economy NaimatUllah Hikmatullah Zada.
    The MoU on cooperation between University of Arif Agriculture, Rawalpindi and Agriculture University, Dushanbe was signed by its Rector NaimatUllah Faiz ullah and Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
    The prime minister in his statement to the press at the conclusion of his one-on-one and delegation-level talks with President Emomali, said he was impressed by the “remarkable political stability, social cohesion and impressive economic progress” of Tajikistan.
    He said the two sides discussed the importance of road, rail and air connectivity and added it was vital for regional integration, promotion of bilateral trade, tourism and people to people contacts.
    “We have therefore resolved to multiply our efforts to increase connectivity between our two countries,” he said.
    Nawaz said his visit had provided an opportunity to translate their close political ties into strategic cooperation in all spheres particularly economy, trade, investment energy and defense.
    During the talks, the two sides also agreed to continue cooperation in international fora including the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Economic Cooperation Organization.
    Vowing joint steps against terrorism, the two sides agreed on holding first meeting of Pakistan Tajikistan Joint Working Group on countering international terrorism.
    The prime minister said the two sides also identified the need for increased cooperation in agriculture, industry, education and culture.
    He said Pakistan views with admiration the laudable socio-economic development and progress achieved under President Rahmon’s leadership.
    He recalled that it was his fourth visit since June 2014 while President Rahmon made two visits to Pakistan. He said frequent high level visits were reflective of importance the two countries attach to their relationship.
    Prime Minister Nawaz said Islamabad attaches great importance to its relations with Central Asian countries, particularly Tajikistan. Both leaders agreed that connectivity holds key to regional integration.
    The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the progress achieved so far in the economic sphere particularly with regard to CASA-1000 Project and hoped it would soon move into the construction phase. The prime minister stressed the need for further enhancing trade, energy and defense cooperation.
    He referred to the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan and said as agreed in 2014, the two countries need to take measures to boost it to $500 million in the next three years.
    The prime minister recalled that a Business Forum was also held in Dushanbe last month where the two sides discussed cooperation in pharmaceuticals, textiles and construction sectors.
    He said the Joint Working Group on trade investment and transport would also be meeting later this month to explore untapped opportunities in these areas. He also announced opening of a Commercial Section at Pakistan’s embassy in Dushanbe.
    Over the past few years the bilateral trade between the two countries has hovered between $40 to 90 million, however the two countries have agreed on boosting it to 500 million dollars.
    Prime Minister Sharif said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would provide new opportunities for enhanced connectivity and integration from Gwadar to Kashgar. It would also provide a road link with Tajikistan and other Central Asian states.
    He said Pakistan attaches great importance to security cooperation with Tajikistan. He said the two countries can share experience on counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, controlling human trafficking and border control.
    The prime minister said the close fraternal relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan were based on shared goals of peace, prosperity and progress.
    He said Tajikistan ‘s formal accession to Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) among China Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan would facilitate regional integration and boost economic development.
    The two sides also noted the close collaboration between their defence forces and measures to counter extremism and terrorism.
    Sharif also offered capacity building of the Tajik Armed Forces.
    The prime minister also shared with the Tajik president the deteriorating situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and said the international community need to stand up with the oppressed people of Kashmir and reject the violation of human rights.
    Regarding relations with Afghanistan, the prime minister said its peace and stability was in Pakistan’s interest and said his country would continue to constructively participate in all initiatives to bring peace. He said a stable Afghanistan would promote regional connectivity and economic development.
    The two leaders also expressed satisfaction over the holding of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) in Islamabad in June 2016. The JMC took important decisions to increase bilateral trade and to achieve the target of $500 million over the medium term.
    President Emomali Rahmon in his statement to the press congratulated Pakistan on accession to the SCO. He noted the strong ties between the two countries and said it coincides with 25 anniversary of their ties that have grown stronger over the years.
    He said the talks were held in warm constructive atmosphere and emphasized that stronger ties would boost regional cooperation and economic relations.
    He said continued dialogue would boost ties between the two countries and stressed the need to finalise agreement on bilateral transit trade at earliest.
    The Tajik president hoped that Pakistani investors would join trade free zones in Tajikistan.
    He said Tajikistan was landlocked and was keen to use opportunities by Pakistan to use its ports for exporting Tajik goods to rest of the world.
    He said both sides exchanged views on regional situation and need to expand ties at ECO, OIC and SCO.
    He said Tajikistan was satisfied with the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and hoped it would lead to enhanced cooperation between the two countries.
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