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KULOB (Tajikistan): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prays at the mausoleum of fourteenth-century saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani.—APP
KULOB (Tajikistan): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prays at the mausoleum of fourteenth-century saint Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani.—APP

DUSHANBE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon agreed on Wednesday to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in areas of trade, energy and connectivity.

Presiding over a delegation-level meeting at the presidential palace, the two leaders stressed the need for close collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan at government and people’s levels.

The prime minister arrived here this afternoon to attend the launching ceremony of Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000). The ceremony will be held on Thursday.

Under the CASA-1000 project, Pakistan will import electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan via Afghanistan to minimise the country’s electricity shortage. The process of laying of power transmission line for the project is under way.

Tajikistan is the world’s third largest producer of hydroelectric power after the United States and Russia.

The initial plan is to transmit about 1,000MW to 1,300MW electricity from the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The major share of the exported energy will be consumed by Pakistan while approximately 300MW will be used by Afghanistan.

In his remarks at the meeting, Mr Sharif said that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Tajikistan.

The prime minister said that CASA-1000 would prove to be a significant milestone for Pakistan to minimise electricity shortage in Pakistan and apprise the Tajik President of his vision to overcome the power crisis in the country by 2018.

The two leaders agreed that connectivity held key to regional integration and expressed satisfaction over the recent launch of direct flights of Tajikistan’s Somon Air from Lahore to Dushanbe.

Mr Sharif mentioned that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan had risen from $15million in 2011 to $89 million in 2014.

He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would provide new opportunities for enhanced connectivity and integration from Gwadar to Kashgar besides providing a road link with Tajikistan through Murghab and other Central Asian states.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2016