ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Tajikistan Friday agreed to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

This was agreed during separate meetings of visiting Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojidin Aslov with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here on Friday.

During the meetings, Pakistan-Tajikistan bilateral relations, existing cooperation in various fields, ways and means to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation and the regional situation were discussed.

President Mamnoon Hussain during the meeting with the Tajik foreign minister said that Pakistan greatly valued its friendship with Tajikistan and was keen to further strengthen the existing relationship. He said that there existed a vast potential to further cement existing equation, especially towards expanding trade and investments ties, strengthening mutual cooperation in energy, defence and security cooperation, education and cultural collaboration, and people-to-people contacts.

Discussing bilateral trade and commerce ties, the president said that the existing volume of bilateral trade did not commensurate with the true potential of the two countries in this important area. He observed that concerted efforts including further strengthening institutional frameworks would help significantly enhancing trade interactions and trade volume. The president also underscored the need for enhanced connectivity between the two countries through air, road and rail links in order to facilitate travel, transit, transportation and tourism.

Discussing projects of mutual benefit, the president said that CASA-1000 is a centre-piece of Pak-Tajik collaboration in the energy sector, which would help strengthen Pakistan’s energy security. He said that early realisation of the project was important.

Regional situation also came under discussion. The president while reaffirming Pakistan’s full support to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s aims and objectives remarked, “We are grateful for the Tajik support towards Pakistan’s bid to join the SCO. We look forward to visit of President Emomali Rahmon to Pakistan, which will take our growing relationship to further heights and would provide impetus to the efforts aimed at further enhancing our mutual cooperation in various fields.” He conveyed his best wishes for his Tajik counterpart for his good health and happiness.

Tajik Foreign Minister Aslov Sirodjidin Muhridinovich also reaffirmed his country’s keen desire to further intensifying bilateral cooperation with Pakistan in all possible areas for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

Talking to the Tajik foreign minister, Prime Minister Nawaz said that Pakistan had deep historical bonds with central Asian region and the country wished to transform those cordial ties into a strong economic partnership. This meeting held at the PM House was in continuation with the prime minister’s June visit of Tajikistan.

The prime minister emphasised on improving trade relations with Tajikistan. He also said the two countries should take measures to encourage travel and tourism, including regular exchange of cultural troupes. “We need to encourage people-to-people contact by facilitating travel and tourism,” he said.

Pakistan, he said, attaches great importance to timely completion of CASA-1000 project. Projects like CASA-1000 and TAPI Gas Pipeline could become a game changer in regional geopolitics and economic integration, he said.  

Special Assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi and Tajikistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Sherali Jononov also attended the meeting.