ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday called for stepping up efforts to finalise import of hydroelectric power from Tajikistan to help overcome acute energy shortage in the country. Finalisation of power import agreement and preferential trade agreement will reinforce ties between Pakistan and Tajikistan, the President said in a meeting with Tajik Minister for Energy and Industry Gul Sherali, who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Ambassador of Tajikistan to Pakistan Zubaydov Zubaydullo was also present in the meeting. Secretary EAD Farrukh Qayyum was also present on the occasion. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bakhtwar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also attended the meeting on special invitation. Briefing the media about the meeting, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the Tajik minister was on a visit to Pakistan on the eve of the Presidents forthcoming visit to Tajikistan. On the invitation of Tajik President Enomali Rahman, the President of Pakistan will shortly undertake a visit to Tajikistan. A trilateral summit of Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan and a quadrilateral summit of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia are also likely to be held during the visit. The President said that the Gwadar Port, which had become operational, was perfectly suited to address the Central Asian needs. He also expressed hope that Tajikistan would avail the facilities. The President said that Pakistan was also constructing the Torkham-Jalalabad road in Afghanistan and give related infrastructure and services to facilitate access to Tajikistan and Central Asia. The President also appreciated the support extended by Tajikistan for Pakistans observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement (SCO). Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying that Pakistan would like to become full member of the SCO and looked forward to having Tajikistans assistance in this regard. The Tajik minister informed the President that Tajikistan had about 3000MW exportable surplus electricity, which could be exported to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Farhatullah Babar said that the possibility of importing electricity from Tajikistan is being explored in collaboration with the World Bank in the context of Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM) initiative. An agreement formalising laying of transmission line from Tajikistan to Pakistan for electricity trade was inked in August last year during the inter-government council meeting in Islamabad. The President inquired about the status of the project and directed that bottlenecks, if any, should be removed for its early implementation. Following a request from the Tajik minister, the President also advised the government to allot suitable plot of land in Islamabad for building the Tajikistan Embassy. Later, the President in a brainstorming meeting on the energy issues in the country conceded that the persistent and long hours of load-shedding in the hot summer have tested the patience of the people to their limits, saying, Let us together, the government and the private entrepreneurs, take the bull by the horns. He urged the business and industrialists community to join hands with the government in a partnership for ridding the country of the problem of power shortage and outages, once and for all. The session was participated by ministers and senior officials and half a dozen leading entrepreneurs of the country. The meeting was attended by Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Faheem, Minister for Commerce, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Watto, Minister for Industries and Production, Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan, Minister for Investment, Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Minister for Textile, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Minister for Water and Power, M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General, Dr. Asim Hussain, Advisor to PM on Petroleum and NR and federal secretaries. Arif Nizami, President Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) also attended the meeting. The private entrepreneurs who attended the meeting, included Tariq Saigol, Mian Mohammad Mansha, Razaq Dawood, Bashir Ali Mohammad, and Tariq Mahmood, Chairman, APTMA. The government has already embarked upon rental power projects to meet urgent energy needs but we also need to think of some out of box long-term solution, he said. Briefing the media about the meeting the spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the President suggested some innovative solutions to the problem and invited the private sector to consider the suggestions. The President suggested that a company should be formed collectively by energy investors, which should offer shares to the general public through the stock exchange to raise capital. He said that the government had already prepared feasibilities for dozens of small hydel projects, which can be shared with the private energy producers to jump-start the private power projects. Farhatullah Babar quoted the President as saying that raising capital through stock exchanges by the conglomerate of private producers and the assistance rendered by the government by providing feasibility studies and needed facilities, could prove to be a very successful model. The President invited the participants to give the suggestion a serious thought and to take up with the government if they found it workable and worthwhile. A number of private entrepreneurs speaking on the occasion offered suggestions on issues ranging from circular debt to solar energy and hydel generation. We have the political will to try out of box solutions, the President said and advised the private entrepreneurs to also meet the Prime Minister and discuss these suggestions. Farhatullah Babar said that after the private investors meeting with the Prime Minister this week another meeting will be held in the Presidency with both the PM and President presiding over, to consider some out of box solutions in addition to the ongoing projects aimed at adding another 3000 MW to the national grid by the end of the year. The meeting that will also be participated by private investors and relevant officials is likely to be held by the end of the week or early next week, he said.