ISLAMABAD, March 7 (APP): President Asif Ali Zardari said on Monday that Pakistan was ready to assist Tajikistan to provide an easy access to its ports, especially the Gwadar Port. In this context, he said, “we are ready to discuss the conclusion of a Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.” Addressing a banquet held at Aiwan-e-Sadr here in the honour of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Zardari said that Pakistan was ready to discuss frameworks that would facilitate trade and economic relations between the two countries.

“We are keen to create an interface between the private sectors of the two countries,” the President said.

The President said that Pakistan-Tajikistan relations were rooted in the centuries old bonds of history, faith, culture and traditions and it was a matter of great satisfaction that this relationship was strengthening with every passing day.

“The mutual feelings of friendship trust and confidence are reassuring,” he said.

Highlighting the shared objectives and aspirations of the two countries, the President noted that the two countries were determined to work closely to strengthen the whole range of bilateral relations.

He said that Pakistan and Tajikistan were determined to work together to promote stability, peace and development in the region.

The President said that the foundation of the relationship was laid by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto nearly 17 years ago when she had sent him as a special envoy of Pakistan to Tajikistan.

The President said that Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had a vision of promoting regional trade and connectivity.

He said, “had those policies been continued, we would have been at much better position today and had not faced many problems such as the present energy crisis.”

The President, on this occasion, also emphasized that the people, intelligentsia, civil society, business community and media should step forward and take ownership of the policies for the sake of ensuring their continuity.

The President said that the present government was picking up the threads to enhance and further strengthen Pak-Tajik relations and pursuing the policies that would promote regional trade and enhance collaboration to meet the challenges facing the region and bringing in socio-economic development.

Appreciating close partnership of the two countries within the frameworks of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Economic Cooperation Organization, Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations, the President said, “we will continue to strive to strengthen our partnership with Tajikistan.”

He said it was a matter of great satisfaction that the two countries share a vision of regional development and connectivity.

CASA-1000 project aimed at providing 1000 megawatts of electricity to Pakistan through Afghanistan was a concrete step for the realization of such vision, he said.

The President said Pakistan was keenly interested in enhancing air and road links to Tajikistan.

He said that their region faced challenges of extremism, terrorism, narcotics and organized crime. “We have to work closely to overcome these challenges in order to promote peace and stability in our region.”
Talking about regional situation, the President reiterated that Pakistan would extend all assistance to Afghan brothers in their quest for peace and prosperity, based on the time tested principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

The President also thanked the government and people of Tajikistan for their generous humanitarian assistance for flood victims in Pakistan last year.

The President hoped that the visit of Tajik President to Pakistan would become a new milestone in the brotherly relations between the two countries.

In his remarks, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon assured of his government’s commitment to enhance trade and energy connectivity to bring regional prosperity.

He said that Tajikistan had enough hydel resources to provide electricity to not only Pakistan and Afghanistan but also to other regional countries.

Emomali Rahmon said the two countries needed to strive for multidimensional relations whose indestructible foundations were built by their forefathers.

He said his generation was raised in the spirit of Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

The Tajik President expressed satisfaction at the strengthening bilateral relations and said their ties would be a model for other countries.