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Thursday June 20, 2024

Pakistan, Uzbekistan will lobby to unfreeze Afghan assets: PM Imran Khan

PM Imran emphasises that connectivity from Pakistan to Uzbekistan via Afghanistan would also benefit the war-torn country

By Our Correspondent
March 04, 2022
The two countries would also meet with the Afghans to see what conditions are required for recognition from the international community. -PID
The two countries would also meet with the Afghans to see what conditions are required for recognition from the international community. -PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday that Pakistan and Uzbekistan would lobby to unfreeze Afghan assets that were frozen by the international community in the aftermath of the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan.

Premier said this while addressing a joint press stakeout at the Prime Minister House alongside Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who arrived in the federal capital earlier in the day on a two-day state visit.

“We have decided, we will try our best that the Afghan funds that have been frozen ... we will lobby on this,” he said, gesturing to himself and the Uzbekistan president. He explained that the two countries would also meet with the Afghans to see what conditions are required for recognition from the international community and remarked, “what Afghanistan can do to gain international recognition: we have decided to do this campaign together.

PM Imran emphasised said that connectivity from Pakistan to Uzbekistan via Afghanistan would also benefit the people of the war-torn country, who had witnessed difficult times for the past 40 years.

Prior to the media talk, the two leaders witnessed the signing of different Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and agreements between the two countries. Prime Minister started by welcoming the Uzbek president to Pakistan and thanked him once again for the warm welcome extended to the Pakistani delegation during last year's visit to Tashkent and Samarkand. He said that Uzbekistan used to enjoy close relations with South Asia for close to 500 years, which had suffered for the last 200 years.

“So we, you and me, decided to mend these ties and advance our relations keeping in mind trade, our cultural links and our history. Trade between the two countries had increased 50 per cent ever since he and the Uzbek president decided to advance relations, while joint ventures between Pakistani businessmen and the Uzbekistan business community had increased by five percent,” he noted.

Prime Minister Imran thanked President Mirziyoyev for presenting him with a book on similar words in Urdu and Uzbek. The prime minister said “that in the book that you have just given to me, you have taken an interest in how many words are similar in Uzbek language and Urdu and their number is 3,000.”

He continued, “We have not just decided to increase trade. We will also be making a film on Zaheeruddin Babar, the first Mughal emperor who hailed from Uzbekistan.”

The premier referred to the railway project between Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and said this will connect Pakistan to Central Asia and Central Asian republics to Pakistan and Gwadar. The prime minister said that direct flights between the two countries would start that would not only improve connectivity but also help to promote tourism and trade. He went on to say that Pakistan had presented its stance on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). “Pakistan has presented its position on Kashmir. We believe that what is happening in Kashmir is a great injustice, a violation of international law and the UN Security Council. We want the international community to enforce international law in the way that the United Nations should do,” he said, referring to the talks between the two leaders.

The prime minister said, “We think what is happening in IIOJ&K is a great injustice. It is a violation of international laws and the United Nations Security Council resolutions. The global community should enforce the relevant laws”.

PM Imran said that Pakistan and Uzbekistan had the same stance of Islamophobia, which was that no one could insult Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) under the guise of freedom of speech.

He again reiterated, “The Muslims countries should come together and carry out a campaign while recently Pakistan had led a similar campaign which was recognised by two Western leaders, Canada's Justin Trudeau and Russia's Vladimir Putin”.

Speaking on the occasion, the President of Uzbekistan thanked the people of Pakistan and the Pakistani leadership for hosting him and wished them a happy Pakistan Day this month. He said that the visit was planned for a long time but due to the global pandemic it took more time but during that ‘time we worked on preparing all the necessary things for the visit’.

He said, “We are not only developing strong strategic relationship with Pakistan but we are also playing the role of a bridge between Central and South Asia.” President Shavkat said that during the meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, many issues were discussed and the status of projects and future was discussed.

“During the talks, the issues of Uzbekistan and your new Pakistan came up and our governments are working on it. Economic and trade relations between us are growing efficiently and rapidly, but there are still areas where we can make further progress and have the potential,” he said.

He noted that the trade agreements that have been signed today are an important step in further strengthening our relations. He said that the railway project between Tirmiz Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul and Peshawar is very important, through which we will be connected to the international ports of Pakistan, which needs to be worked on expeditiously.

“We also talked about issues related to regional security and it is very important to ensure the security of the region while the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, which is affecting the people of Afghanistan. That is why we both express our deep concern over the situation in Afghanistan and call on the international community to focus on providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” he said.

Talking about the frozen assets of Afghanistan, he said that we have the same position on the frozen funds of Afghanistan abroad and said, “We will vote for Pakistan to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2025 and 2026 sessions. Uzbekistan and Pakistan have long-standing ties and today we are renewing those ties and contacts. We have agreed to increase cooperation in the fields of science, education, arts, cinema, sports and information”.

President Shavkat said that the interest in Urdu language is increasing in Uzbekistan and chairs have been formed on Urdu language and literature and history and culture of Pakistan. Regarding tourism, he said that ‘we agreed to further promote religious tourism between the two countries and to set up representative offices in the ministries of Tourism of both the countries’.

President Mirziyoyev arrived on a two-day visit at the invitation of the prime minister and was welcomed by PM Imran upon arrival at the Noor Khan Airbase. The president is accompanied by a high-level delegation which includes cabinet members and businessmen. Later, he was presented the guard of honour upon arrival at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.

Earlier President of Uzbekistan arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on a two-day state visit to Pakistan. Clad in cultural dresses, two children presented bouquets to the distinguished guest. Later, the Uzbek president arrived at the Prime Minister House, where he was presented guard of honour.