DUSHANBE - The leaders of Pakistan and Tajikistan on Wednesday vowed early completion of the CASA 1000 project, enabling the former to import 1,000 MW of electricity to address its growing energy needs.

Addressing a press conference along with President Emomali Rahmon, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan would also explore further avenues of energy cooperation with the Central Asian Republic. He said that he held wide-ranging consultations with the Tajik leaders, covering the whole spectrum of bilateral relations, and regional and international issues of mutual concern.

“We reviewed our excellent political relations and agreed that there is a vast potential for expansion of cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment, education, science, culture, energy, transport, defence and security.”

The Prime Minister said that the two countries decided that the Joint Commission on Energy and Infrastructure, established in June 2014, would meet twice a year to explore the possibilities of mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of energy and infrastructure.

“We agreed on enhancing connectivity by air, road and rail for the promotion of our economic relations, people-to-people contacts and tourism. We have concurred with the proposal by a Tajik airline to fly to Pakistan and hope the operation will start soon.”

The Prime Minister said that the two sides also agreed to strengthen economic cooperation by optimally utilising the existing institutional mechanisms, especially through the Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Ministerial Commission.

“Our bilateral trade has grown significantly in recent years. Through mutual efforts, it can be sustained and increased further.” He said that his visit was a manifestation of Pakistan’s strong desire to further deepen and broaden bilateral relations with Tajikistan, as an integral part of its vision to comprehensively enhance engagement with Central Asia.

He said that Tajikistan was Pakistan’s closest neighbour in Central Asia, located at the confluence of South and Central Asia, and was a gateway to the region. He said that similarly Pakistan offered the shortest possible route to the sea to countries in the region through its ports.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that it was important for Pakistan’s socio-economic development to eliminate the scourge of international terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other threats to regional and global security.

“We have once again resolved to collectively fight against these evils,” he said.

He said that both Pakistan and Tajikistan were cooperating closely at the UN, NAM, G-77, OIC, ECO and SCO.

“We reiterated our mutual desire to deepen this cooperation. We agreed to work

closely on the important issue of reform of the UN Security Council.”

He congratulated the Government of Tajikistan for the successful holding of an important high-level Conference on the Implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for life” 2005-2015.

“We highly appreciate the very warm welcome and traditional Tajik hospitality extended to me and members of my delegation,” he said, adding, that his visit was a continuation of Pakistan’s policy of frequent exchanges at the highest level.

“It is a reflection of the strong fraternal ties between the peoples of Pakistan and Tajikistan, which have been nourished by centuries-old historical and cultural linkages and linguistic affinities.”

He said that the Parliaments of the two countries were interacting closely and reinforcing the efforts of the two governments for closer ties.

“Parliamentary exchanges take close friendship to the grassroots level, as these represent the will of the people.”

He said that his visit to Dushanbe had provided an opportunity to once again reflect on common goals of progress and prosperity and the development of infrastructure for regional integration.

“We noted with satisfaction that our bilateral relations are steadily growing,” the Prime Minister said, adding, “Our forward-looking vision aims at further elevating the Pakistan-Tajikistan strategic relationship, to newer heights.”

The Prime Minister expressed profound gratitude to President Rahmon, and the Government and people of Tajikistan, for the very warm welcome and generous hospitality.

“My brother President Rahmon has graciously accepted my invitation to visit Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are looking forward to welcoming His Excellency at his earliest convenience,” he said.

The Prime Minister concluded his remarks by the slogan”Pakistan-Tajikistan Dosti Ta Abad Zindabad” (Long-live Pakistan-Tajikistan friendship).