Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that there were a lot of opportunities present in furthering relations between Pakistan and Tajikistan in different avenues and stressed the need for greater cooperation between the two countries.
The foreign minister was addressing a press conference with his Tajik counterpart, Sirajuddin Mehruddin, at Tajikistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dushanbe as part of his visit to attend the 9th Heart of Asia — Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference.
Qureshi thanked his Tajik counterpart for a "great meeting" on a broad range of issues concerned with bilateral ties and said both had agreed to tap unexplored areas particularly "trade, tourism and people-to-people engagement".
"There is a lot of opportunity for enhancing bilateral trade and promoting investment in both countries," said Qureshi, urging the need for businessmen and entrepreneurs in both countries to visit the other and invest in potential business opportunities.
"The government of Pakistan will be more than happy to receive your delegations and give them the support and provide them the incentives that are required for investment in, or trade with, Pakistan."
"It is very important that parliamentary exchanges are promoted because they create linkages amongst policy makers for both governments and that is very important.
"As the foreign minister pointed out, we discussed our bilateral relations and we were happy to register that we have a sound basis to promote them further and the sound basis are the two joint declarations signed in 2017 and 2018," said Qureshi.
The foreign minister stressed that the roadmap, clarity, goodwill and political determination needed to further relations between the two countries were already present and now "what we need to do is keep the momentum going on political matters and improving our economic footprint on both sides."
He said the two countries had agreed to reactivate a number of joint working groups which would begin producing results and implement the decisions taken in the last joint ministerial commission in "letter and spirit". "The intergovernmental commission is a very good forum for further enhancing our bilateral agreements."
Qureshi said the two foreign ministers had also discussed areas and issues of common concern such as the "challenge of terrorism" and how both countries had successfully dealt with it.
"We also discussed the rising level of extremism and the growing intolerance all over the world — not just in our region — and how we can overcome this challenge," he said, noting drug trafficking and organised crime as other important areas of common interest.
"There's a host of things where we have a unanimity of view and that is reflected in the cooperation that we see between Tajikistan and Pakistan at the UN, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) [...] and we intend to maintain that momentum in the days ahead."
The foreign minister said both he and his Tajik counterpart were "satisfied" by the trajectory of defence cooperation and relations between the two countries "and there are great opportunities in the future."
He extended Pakistan's willingness in training and further building Tajikistan's military capabilities.
Qureshi noted that Pakistan had trained many military officers and senior diplomats of Tajikistan "and we will welcome more officers coming to Pakistan".
"I assure the foreign minister of our commitment to CASA 1000 and our interest in its timely completion. It's a project that benefits Pakistan and the region, we all benefit from it."
He voiced praise for the efforts of the president of Tajikistan who "vociferously advocated the Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement because he as a visionary can see the benefit of this agreement for Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan".
"I am leaving Tajikistan very satisfied in our bilateral relations," said Qureshi, and in turn, extended an invitation to foreign minister Mehruddin to visit Pakistan.
The foreign minister called on Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, after the presser, for an "excellent meeting".
"Indeed our bilateral ties with Tajikistan are of great importance with the shared vision and goals of both Pakistan [and] Tajikistan leadership lending a strong foundation to build these further."
He said he shared the offer of Pakistan's seaports to Tajikistan in his meeting with the president since they offered the shortest route to connectivity with Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
A statement shared by the Foreign Office later in the day said that during the meeting, Qureshi also reiterated Prime Minister Imran Khan's invitation to Rahmon to visit Pakistan.
He also met with Tajikistan’s Defence Minister Colonel General Sherali Mirzo. "We agreed on need to work together to defeat extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border crime."
The foreign minister also met the Chairman of the Majlisi Namoyandagan (Lower House of Tajik Parliament) Zokirzoda Mahmadtoir Zoir. In the meeting, the two sides agreed to activate the already constituted Parliamentary Friendship Groups, the FO said.
"The foreign minister stressed that besides high-level parliamentary exchanges, the two sides should also intensify mutual collaboration between the relevant parliamentary committees."
Qureshi also visited the monument of Ismail Somoni, founder of the Tajik nation, at the conclusion of his visit. He paid homage to Somoni and laid a floral wreath, according to the Foreign Office.
Additional input by Naveed Siddiqui.