Sunday December 05, 2021

Afghan peace vital for Central Asian uplift, says Imran

July 16, 2021

By News Desk

TASHKENT: Prime Minister Imran Khan said peace in war-torn Afghanistan is important to ensure the materialisation of development projects in Central Asia as he began his tour of Uzbekistan with a call to boost trade connectivity.

“Pakistan is keen for peace in Afghanistan and considers it vital for trade connectivity among the regional countries,” Khan said in his address at the Uzbekistan-Pakistan Business Forum on ‘Central and South Asia 2021: Regional Connectivity Challenges and Opportunities’. He added that such trade linkages help raise the living standards of citizens.

On his the matter of connectivity, Khan said Pakistan’s connectivity with Uzbekistan in trade and bilateral spheres would open up new avenues of prosperity in the region. “Pakistan has immense potential to connect Central Asia with rest of the world and become a hub of trade,” the Prime Minister said.

The forum was attended by a large number of businessmen from Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The Prime Minister’s delegation included Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Information Technology Atif Khan.

Khan assured the businessmen and traders of Uzbekistan that Pakistan would extend them every possible facilitation in promotion of trade. “I want to assure the business community of Uzbekistan that this relationship is just the beginning of the journey of development and prosperity,” he added.

The Prime Minister said a railway project linking Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan would prove to be a “revolution of development”. He stressed that to exploit the region’s potential, peace and security in the neighbourhood was essential. It was then that he made his remarks on Afghanistan.

Khan referred to cooperation among the countries of the European Union that focus on bilateral trade arrangements for the benefit of their people. He hoped that with the support and will of the regional states, the situation in Afghanistan would improve.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoy relations, rooted in common faith, culture and history and offered a unique dimension to the two nations to explore each other in diverse areas.

Earlier, Uzbekistan Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov in his speech mentioned the strong ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan in multiple areas of cooperation. He welcomed Khan on his official visit to Uzbekistan, which he said would usher in a new area of cooperation and joint ventures between the two brotherly countries.

Later, Prime Minister Khan was given a guard of honour on his arrival at Uzbekistan’s Koksaray presidential palace. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the Prime Minister at the official welcome ceremony, where contingents of Uzbek forces presented static salute to the visiting dignitary.

Prime Minister Khan reviewed the parade as national anthems of the two countries were played on the occasion. Later, Mirziyoyev and Khan introduced their delegations to each other before proceeding to official talks. Meanwhile, foreign minister Qureshi said Pakistan and Uzbekistan have a vast potential to explore opportunities of bilateral trade and investment for their mutual interest. He said the business community from the two sides showed immense interest in bilateral engagement.

He mentioned that the Pak-Uzbek business forum was attended by around 130 representatives of leading companies and business houses from Pakistan. He said the activity resulted in signing of agreements worth $453 million and hoped that it would lead to further strengthening of bilateral trade.