Dushanbe: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday proposed a four-point strategy to boost economic cooperation among Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Russia. Addressing the third quadrilateral summit here, he called for regional connectivity framework to physically connect the member states with road, railway and air links.
The President pointed out that Russia, Tajikistan are already connected and Pakistan may consider the road link from Dushanbe to Chitral in Pakistan through Iskatul Gulkhana in Afghanistan. This would both be a shortest road by land and also link the ports of Gwadar and Karachi to Dushanbe and onwards to Russia, he added.
The President gave proposal for preferential trade arrangements, transit trade facilities, joint business forums, trade exhibitions and joint ventures in banking, textile, cement, agriculture and steel sectors to give a major boost to commercial and trade relations.
In this regard, he pointed out, the expansion of the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and said inclusion of other partners would be a significant step.
He said effective utilization of water resources and energy generation will determine peace and direction of our economies. In this connection, implementation of CASA 1000 hydro electricity project is of great significance.
President Zardari told the conference that terrorism, drug trafficking and organized criminal activities pose security challenges and are a threat to our countries. They have developed a nexus that must be defeated through close cooperation, coordination and action.
The President emphasized that it is only through regional solution that we can address regional issues. He said we are collective stakeholders in our common aspirations for peace, stability and development in the region.
Referring to the menace of terrorism, he said Pakistan itself has paid a heavy price in its campaign against terrorism and extremism. “We are closely working with President Karzai and support his efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan, he said.
He said Pakistan fully supports and remains committed to the success of Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process in that country.
The President pointed out that durable peace also requires economic dividends. We already had a meeting of our economic and commerce minister and a number of projects have been identified for development.
Joint Experts should meet in near future for technical discussions on these projects, he added. He said anti narcotics chiefs of the four countries have also met and discussed measures to combat drug trafficking.
The President proposed establishment of a coordination mechanism headed by four foreign ministers and assisted by the foreign secretaries to follow up on the growing thread of cooperation and to report to the next summit.
President Zardari reiterated Pakistan offer to host the next quadrilateral summit in Islamabad next year.
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