ASHGABAT -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday said Pakistan was willing to join Ashgabat Agreement and Lapis Lazuli Corridor.

Addressing the two-day Global Sustainable Transport Conference in Ashgabat, the prime minister hoped the agreement would prove a milestone in achieving the dream of peaceful coexistence through integration of economies, markets and cultures in South Asia, Central Asia and beyond.

The prime minister asserted, “We all must work together to create an environment to fully exploit the dividends of regional connectivity and integration.” He said Pakistan was actively participating in various projects launched by Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation and through this organisation, Central Asia and its neighbours could realise the tremendous potential by promoting regional cooperation in transport, trade facilitation, energy and trade. He emphasised it was impossible to connect countries in the region without promoting peace. “Peace and prosperity are interlinked,” Prime Minister Sharif said.

He held no country could progress without an excellent communication system. “Regional integration and connectivity are one of the key pillars of my government. It enables us to join hands in pursuing our common objective of bolstering peace and development in our region. This is where Pakistan and other countries of the region have the biggest opportunity to work for the betterment of our people,” the prime minister averred.

He affirmed Pakistan would be happy to serve as a gateway to Central Asia. “Pakistan is also a signatory to a number of bilateral, regional and international transit agreements,” he said and expressed the confidence that these arrangements would facilitate promotion of mutual beneficial economic relations with Central Asia.

He said state-of-the-art facilities were being constructed at Wagah, Torkham and Chaman to promote trade. “Pakistan is simultaneously promoting regional energy, including TAPI gas pipeline, CASA-1000 and others,” he averred.

Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was fully committed to its responsibilities as a partner in regional and economic integration. He stated with the projects like CPEC and One Belt, One Road Pakistan had enhanced its geo-strategic location into a geo-economic advantage.

“China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is now a game changer. It aims to create the world’s largest platform to integrate development of various regions in the Eurasian landmass. Pakistan as a partner is fully committed to this initiative which will go a long way in realising our vision for transforming Pakistan into a hub of trade and commerce and harnessing its geo-strategic location into a geo-economic advantage,” the premier noted.

PM REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT FOR PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm commitment to the efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

During a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s keen desire for deepening engagement with Afghanistan.

He also stressed on the need for enhancing bilateral political interaction, security coordination, trade and transit, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges. The two leaders had a cordial exchange of views regarding efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan and strengthening of relations between the two countries.

The prime minister said Pakistan would continue its serious efforts for facilitating the peace process, including the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG).

 

He appreciated Afghan government’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan and expressed support to the peace agreement between Afghan Government and Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan.

The two leaders discussed the need of cooperation to combat the scourge of terrorism, which was a common enemy and a serious challenge to peace in both countries, and the region.

The prime minister said the elimination of this menace required effective coordination between security, intelligence and counter-terrorism institutions of the two countries.

Discussing the importance of economic development for peace and stability in Afghanistan, President Ghani thanked the prime minister for Pakistan’s new development package of $500 million announced at Brussels last month.

The prime minister suggested that the focus should be on promoting connectivity to stimulate economic development, for the benefit of the peoples of both countries.

The two leaders also agreed on the need for continued engagement in other areas, including coordination for smooth, safe and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees and their sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan.

President Ghani thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than three decades.