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Five presidents, three PMs to participate in ECO summit

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February 28, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The stage is set for 13th summit of the 10 countries of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) being hosted here Wednesday (tomorrow). Eight heads of states/ governments have confirmed to participate in the summit including Turkey’s President Recept Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Dr Hasan Rouhani.

Apart from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, five presidents and three prime ministers will participate in the ECO summit to be held in Islamabad on March 1. The heads of state and government from Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan will be the participants of the ECO summit.

With the commencement of the summit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will assume the office of the chairman of the organisation as ‘Islamabad Declaration’ would be adopted by the summit. Well placed diplomatic sources told The News here Monday that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has declined to attend the summit since he has been persuaded by New Delhi not to turn up in the gathering.

Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Salahuddian Rabbani will head his country’s delegation. Interestingly, Afghanistan was the first to announce boycotting summit of South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) scheduled in November last year in Islamabad. India then influenced Afghanistan to announce the boycott.

Indian leaders wanted to isolate Pakistan in the world community to grind its axe with Islamabad. Kabul became instrument in subverting the Saarc. Pakistan has made elaborate arrangements for the Saarc and the government had spent about eight billion rupees for befitting arrangements for the Saarc summit. Five billion rupees were given to Capital Development Authority (CDA) to renovate and uplift face of the city.

The infrastructure made for the Saarc summit now is being used for the ECO summit. India also created hurdles in replacing Yar Bahadur Thapa, secretary Saarc, with Pakistan’s senior diplomat Amjad Sayyal but India had to withdraw its objections and Sayyal would assume the office tomorrow.

Pakistan’s hosting the ECO summit would become source of those international forces ample defeat who were out to isolate Pakistan on account of its support for the innocent and oppressed people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a marathon meeting pertaining to the preparations for the ECO summit here at the Prime Minister House Monday. It was also attended by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, State Minister Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhary and officials belong to the law enforcement agencies.

It was decided fool-proof security arrangements would be put in place for the summit as additional forces is being called from the adjacent province to ensure peace and order tomorrow (Wednesday). It was also decided that close holiday would be observed tomorrow, the sources said. The security of the sensitive ‘Red Zone’ of the federal capital would be assigned to Army from Tuesday morning as no unauthorized movement would be permitted in the zone for two days.

The senior officials of the ECO countries have worked out their recommendations for the summit as their two-day meeting was concluded here on Monday. The meeting of the Foreign Ministers of ECO is taking place here today (Tuesday) where the ‘Islamabad Declaration’ and relevant documents would be choreographed, the sources said. Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary who chaired the two-day senor official’s meeting is looking after his last assignment in his incumbent capacity.

He will be leaving for Washington in the second week of next month to assume as Pakistan’s ambassador for the United States. Country’s new Foreign Secretary Ms. Tehmina Janjua has also arrived here from Geneva to assist her predecessor and develop understanding about working with her new assignment. She is currently Pakistan’s permanent representative (PR) in United Nations Geneva headquarter.

The committee constituted under State Minister for CADD Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary to supervise the arrangements for the ECO summit, visited the site of conference on Monday. The state minister and members of the committee are inspecting the site round the clock to check the arrangements.

Dr Tariq Fazal visited the place where Special Foreign Secretary Muhammad Waheedul Hasan and Additional Foreign Secretary Tasawar Khan Lodhi briefed him about the preparations. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will host dinner in the honour of visiting Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today (Tuesday) at the Prime Minister House as it would be private family dinner where the two leaders will have discussion free of protocol and formalities on the subjects of mutual interest.

First lady Kalsum Nawaz Sharif and Turkish First Lady will also be present in the dinner. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif formalities will receive all the leaders on their arrival at the Nur Khan airbase, the sources added.

Meanwhile, on the second day of their meeting in Islamabad on Monday, senior officials of ECO member states are finalising recommendations for consideration by the meeting of Council of Ministers on Tuesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in an interview. He said that the officials were discussing ECO Vision 2025, Islamabad Declaration and some administrative matters. He said after consideration by the Council of Ministers these would form agenda of the summit.

The spokesperson said the leaders of the organisation would consider ways and means to take ECO forward. He said that all member states had a joint commitment to the regional connectivity which is theme of the 13th summit. 

To a question, he said, “1The CPEC is also about regional connectivity and therefore it would also come under discussion during the conference.

He said at some later stage, individual bilateral and sub-regional initiatives for connectivity might be considered for possible linkage with CPEC.

Replying to another question, the spokesperson said that Pakistan is situated on crossroads of three important regions and can serve as transit trade route and energy corridor.

Meanwhile, heads of state and government and the accompanying delegations will be given foolproof security during their stay in Pakistan for the summit of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO). 

Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who chaired a meeting of administration and high level police officials of Rawalpindi and Islamabad here Monday in this regard, approved the security plan for the ECO summit. 

On the instructions of the minister for interior, for the convenience of residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, it will be a local holiday in the twin cities on March 1 while on February 28, after 1:00pm, educational institutions and offices will remain closed. 

A traffic plan for the twin cities during the summit, was also approved. From February 28 till night of March 1, Kashmir Highway will remain closed from Zero Point to Serena Square for ordinary traffic. These steps will be taken to ensure security, uninterrupted flow of traffic and for saving citizens from any hardship. The traffic coming from Murree and Kashmir will gain access to Kashmir Highway and Zero Point through Faizabad via Convention Centre. Similarly the traffic coming from Golra will be diverted from Zero Point to Faizabad. 

The Interior Ministry appealed to the residents of the twin cities for cooperation in view of the significance of ECO meeting. Besides ensuring security of VIPs and smooth flow of traffic on alternative routes, it should also be ensured that the citizens should face the least inconvenience, he directed. 

The minister said that the security of ECO summit was not only an administrative issue but also a matter of image of Pakistan.

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