ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Tuesday said that Pakistan being the founding member remains strongly committed to our common goal to raise the quality of life of the people of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Region through greater connectivity, expansion of intra and inter regional trade, and removal of trade barriers.

Addressing the 22nd Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Council of Ministers Meeting (COM) here, he said that ECO has the potential to bring economic prosperity and progress to the region.

He said for the ECO region that stretches from the Himalayas in the East to the West of Dardanelles and from the Arabian Sea in the South to Russian Urals and Siberia in the North, the concept of regional connectivity offers immense potential for progress, prosperity and development of its 450 million people.

Today, our traditional friendship and cooperation provide a solid plank for undertaking new initiatives and programmes to realize the ECO vision, he added.

He said this year we also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the expansion of ECO in 1992, when seven new members joined the organization. Accordingly, Pakistan is hosting the 22nd ECO Summit on the theme of “Connectivity for Prosperity”.

As envisaged in the draft ECO Vision 2025, “We need to collectively work towards realizing the three long-term sectoral priorities of ECO:

(i) Development of transport and communication infrastructure;

(ii) Facilitation of trade and investment; and

(iii) Effective use of the region’s vast energy resources.”

Global peace, stability and prosperity, he said cannot be achieved in silos in the inter-connected world of today. Our region is faced with a number of challenges including extremism, terrorism, drug-trafficking and trans-national organized crimes, he added.

Similarly, he maintained natural disasters and environmental hazards are putting extra strain on economic progress of the states. Therefore, he added innovative approaches and concerted efforts would be required for the socio-economic and human development of our peoples.

Talking about the state of economy, Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan has accelerated its economic growth from an average of 3% in 2007-2012 to 4.7% in the last four years.

The priority goal of the government has been economic development, as an important pre-requisite for achieving peace and stability, he said, adding that all macro-economic indicators are looking up which has raised the investors confidence in the country.

Pakistan was taking serious steps to upgrade road infrastructure in order to facilitate smooth flow of goods with our neighbours.

“We are confident that China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would galvanize trade opportunities with the ECO region. Pakistan has also launched Integrated Transit Trade Management System to revamp the transport infrastructure”, he added.

“We have also made good progress in combating the scourge of terrorism and extremism through a comprehensive strategy of law enforcement and targeted military operations. We are therefore confident of providing safe transit passage for smooth flow of trade activities without any barriers”, he said.

He also expressed his deep appreciation to Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, for steering ECO with great distinction since 2012.

He also acknowledged and appreciated Secretary General ECO, Halil Ibrahim Acka and his team for their hard work and dedication in preparing for the Summit.