- Prime Minister Imran Khan, currently on a two-day visit to attend SCO summit, urges better connectivity for improvement in trade, invites Tajikistan's business community to Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that he would collaborate with the Tajikistan government to ensure peace in Afghanistan, and that an inclusive government is formed in the neighbouring country.
The prime minister made these remarks while addressing the business forum in Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan.
Talking about the situation in Afghanistan, after the Taliban takeover, he said, “We just wish and pray that finally after 40 years of conflict there will be peace in Afghanistan."
Khan said that it is “extremely important” for Pakistan's trade that there is peace in Afghanistan “so that there is better connectivity".
The prime minister added that he would meet the president of Tajikistan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. “We will be doing our best to make sure that they get together and there is an inclusive government.”
The PM had earlier arrived in Tajikistan to attend the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO's) Heads of State Summit in Dushanbe.
Tajikistan PM Kokhir Rasulzoda received his counterpart at the airport where he was accorded a red carpet welcome. The prime minister was accompanied by a high-level ministerial as well as a business delegation.
“The objective of this meeting is to have an interaction between the business community of Tajikistan and Pakistan,” said the cricketer-turned politician.
Over 67 companies from Pakistan representing different sectors including textiles, minerals, pharmaceuticals, and logistics are participating in the forum.
Khan praised Tajikistan for its resourcefulness, saying that the country possesses “cheap and clean” hydroelectricity. “Unfortunately, Pakistan has very expensive electricity and we hope that CASA 1000 is expedited so that we could also benefit from Tajikistan's cheap and green hydroelectricity.”
Launched in 2016, the under-construction Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) power project, will allow the export of surplus hydroelectricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and finally to Pakistan.
“For the business community of Tajikistan, Pakistan is a country of over 220 million people, which is a huge market,” Khan added.
The premier has also invited the Tajikistan business community to Pakistan, and assured them that the government would facilitate business-to-business contact. "The more trade between the two countries, the more it will benefit the two countries,” he said.
PM said that at present, Pakistan-Tajikistan trade is “minuscule” at around $80 million, “which means that there is a lot of potential”.
“We're already trying to facilitate our own business community, removing all hurdles in their way and making it easier for them to do business.”
Earlier, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said that the PM's visit to Tajikistan will prove to be an important milestone. While referring to the SCO summit, Chaudhry said that the situation in Afghanistan will remain the top agenda.
PM meets Kazakh, Belarus presidents in Dushanbe
Meanwhile, Khan and President of Kazakhstan Kassyum-Jomart Tokayev held a meeting in Dushanbe and discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, tweeted the Prime Minister's Office.
"The Prime Minister underlined that Pakistan was resolved to comprehensively upgrade engagement with Central Asian countries through its 'Vision Central Asia' policy," a statement issued from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
PM Khan also met the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Heads of State meeting.
The two leaders discussed mutual efforts for strengthening of Pakistan-Belarus relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues. Reviewing bilateral relations, the premier expressed satisfaction at the growing cooperation between the two countries, according to the PMO handout.
During his visit, the PM will also hold meetings with the Iranian president, the Chinese foreign minister, and the leadership of Central Asian States.