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ISLAMABAD: Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exchanging documents of a memorandum of understanding at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif exchanging documents of a memorandum of understanding at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Tajikistan agreed on Thursday to strengthen cooperation in the fields of energy, defence and trade and vowed to improve connectivity to deepen bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, while addressing a press conference after their delegation level talks here at the PM House, termed the visit ‘productive’ and ‘fruitful’. They said it helped further expand their multifaceted relationship.

The two leaders, besides inking a joint statement, witnessed the signing of seven agreements dealing with cooperation in energy, industrial sectors, extradition, establishment of a joint business council, and collaboration in science and technology and geology.

“We reviewed our ties and agreed to build on the potential of our relationship for the mutual advantage of the two peoples,” Prime Minister Sharif said.

The Tajik president termed the visit a success and said the two countries had laid a ‘solid foundation’ by inking another set of agreements which would help them explore new avenues of cooperation.

Mr Sharif said that establishment of the joint business council would help strengthen bilateral trade.

He mentioned the successful single-country ‘Made in Pakistan’ exhibition held in Dushanbe last month.

The two countries that increased their trade from a meagre $15 million in 2011 to $89m in 2014 were trying to increase it to $500m.

The prime minister said that Pakistan was looking forward to the early completion of CASA-1000 project and said it would help Pakistan meet its energy needs.

Mr Rahmon invited the prime minister on a state visit to Dushanbe next year for the inauguration of the project which the latter accepted.

The two leaders termed extremism and terrorism as common threats and expressed the resolve to counter it and bring peace and stability to their countries and the region.

The two sides also agreed on mutual cooperation in defence and security, culture, science and technology, people to people contacts and tourism.

Stressing the importance of regional connectivity, Prime Minister Sharif called for enhancing road, rail and air links and offered Tajikistan to use Pakistan’s sea ports.

The premier said Tajikistan’s geostrategic location was crucial to his government’s vision of reaching out to friendly states in Central Asia.

“Tajikistan is the gateway to these countries for access to our all-weather sea-ports,” he said, adding “Our shared vision of forging mutually beneficial strategic partnership derives its sustenance from these natural advantages”.

Mr Sharif said it was agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission would be held in Islamabad, while a Joint Commission in Energy would explore ways to help Pakistan meet its energy shortage.

It would meet twice a year and help explore new opportunities in energy and infrastructure, he added.

Syed Irfan Raza adds: Later, the Tajik leader called on President Mamnoon Hussain at the presidency. During the meeting, Mr Hussain said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project would not only benefit China and Pakistan but also boost Tajikistan’s economy.

“China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will provide Tajikistan with road connectivity and access to our ports,” President Hussain said.

President Rahmon said his government was waiting for early completion of the CPEC because it would give his country access to Pakistan’s ports and land routes.

A special convocation ceremony was arranged at the presidency at which President Mamnoon conferred on the Tajik president an honorary PhD degree in economics.

The Tajik leader said that Pakistan was his second home and he did not consider himself a guest here.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2015