LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov on Saturday denounced terrorism and promised joint measures, as Shahbaz said the menace was an international issue that required coordinated efforts to deal with.
He added that Pakistan and the Russian Federation enjoyed cordial relations and “we should work jointly to further promote them”. “We will have to work collectively to eliminate terrorism and fanaticism so that this world could become a peaceful and secure place,” said the chief minister.
During the delegation-level talks and Punjab-Tatarstan Business Forum held at a local hotel, both sides agreed to promote the bilateral relations. They also constituted a joint committee to identify different areas for promoting cooperation between Punjab and Tatarstan.
The visiting dignitary commended the development vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz, adding that he was pleased to see the wonderful progress in Punjab. “Punjab is the most developed province of Pakistan and the people are known for their hospitality,” he remarked.
Minnikhanov said there was no room for terrorism and extremism in Islam. “It is incorrect to link the Muslim countries with terrorism and fanaticism. Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and harmony,” he noted.
“We will work unitedly to eliminate terrorism,” he said, adding that they were with Pakistan in its sincere efforts for eliminating terrorism.
Similar views were expressed by Shahbaz who said, “We condemn the elements linking terrorism and fanaticism with Islam.” He added that no one was authorised to shed the blood of innocent people.
Minnikhanov said Lahore had welcomed him with open arms and “we will promote regional cooperation on solid grounds”.
Minnikhanov said they were eagerly awaiting Shahbaz’s visit to Tatarstan in June and commended his command on Russian language.
The chief minister said Islam gave equal rights to all human beings without any differentiation of colour or creed. He described the terrorists and fanatics as savages who, he added, didn’t have any religion.
He said Pakistan was a victim of terrorism and the Pakistani nation had rendered great sacrifices in the war against terror. Serious efforts had been made, he added, to overcome the challenges of terrorism, fanaticism and energy crisis.
“Steps have been taken under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for promoting religious harmony, love and brotherhood, because it is the way forward,” the chief minister stressed.
Shahbaz said Pakistan and the Russian Federation could further promote bilateral relations in agriculture, engineering, information technology, energy, petrochemical, livestock, tourism and other sectors.
He recalled that the prime minister had visited Tatarstan in 1999 during his visit to Russia. He said there were strong opportunities for promoting bilateral economic cooperation.
“I invite the investors of Tatarstan to invest in Pakistan, especially in the Punjab. We will provide them every opportunity,” he added.
The chief minister said Punjab had vast investment opportunities due to a strong infrastructure. “As a result of $54 billion investment under the CPEC, trade and economic activities have been boosted in the region, and it can be helpful in promoting economic relations with Tatarstan and the Russian Federation.” Shahbaz told Minnikhanov that the people of Punjab and Pakistan were happy over his visit which would begin a new era of trade and economic relations.
During the business forum, Punjab Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha shared the details of opportunities available to foreign investors in the province.
An agreement was also signed on the occasion between the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Later in the evening, the Republic of Tatarstan’s autonomous institution IT-Park Kazan and Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB)’s Center for Entrepreneurship signed an MoU.
The document primarily covers the areas of cooperation in information sharing and technology collaboration through technology transfer, investment, bilateral contacts and partnership development between startups and IT companies, encouragement of innovative industries through joint ventures or technology cooperation or training and infrastructure support of the innovative enterprises at early stages of development.
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