DUSHANBE: President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Tajikistan on Thursday to attend the third quadrilateral summit betweenTajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Russian Federation.
The President was warmly received by Tajik Minister for Water Resources Rehmat Bobokalonov, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan Amjad Sial and other senior officials at Dushanbe International Airport.
Zardari was accompanied by Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain.
In his arrival statement the president said that this important forum provided an opportunity to reflect upon the co-operation between the four countries in the fields of economy, trade, defence, energy, fight against narcotics, combating extremism and terrorism as well as trilateral consultations.
He said that Pakistan was looking forward to an early establishment and development of of air, road and rail links in the region connecting Central Asia to the seaports in Pakistan. This will further enhance people-to-people contacts and tourism, the President added.
He said that the CASA-1000 (Central-Asian and South-Asian) was the most important project in the realm of our regional energy cooperation and Pakistan was committed to its early implementation.
The President said that Pakistan and Tajikistan had excellent relations in areas of trade, economy, defence, education, investment, energy and human resource development and that both countries were facing similar regional challenges as “our region is infested with poverty, unemployment, underdevelopment and lack of economic opportunities and all these challenges have led our region to an abyss where militancy nourishes”.
He said that Pakistan and Tajikistan’s relationship was a natural union of brotherhood, friendship and of mutual respect, between governments, for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Our governments are determined to provide a better future to our generations and we are looking towards that end,” the President said.
From the airport, President Zardari left for the presidential palace to hold a bilateral meeting with his Tajik counterpart.
Zardari meets Takjik President Rahmon
President Asif Ali Zardari and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon met here at Qasr-e-Millat, Dushanbe, to discuss matter relating to bilateral relations, regional situation, common challenges and the way forward in addressing the issues of common concern.
This is Zardari’s third visit of President to Tajikistan—first as Member National Assembly in 1995 and second in 2009 to participate in first Quadrilateral Summit. He hoped that this visit would not only help in bringing Pakistan and Tajikistan closer and cementing bilateral relations but would also help in chalking out mutually agreed strategy to find way forward to the issues concerning the two countries and to explore possibilities where all participating countries could pool their resources for the betterment of the people of the region.
Zardari said that being the immediate neighbours, the two countries have vital stakes in peace and stability of Afghanistan.
He said that during today’s meeting the two Presidents agreed upon the need to work earnestly on extending existing connectivity modes between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Zardari said that the existing road link from Dushanbe to Peshawar via Kabul-Torkhum did not generate much business activities owing to difficulties faced by the business community in shape of security hazards and high tariffs. Moreover, the bounds restrictions on goods vehicles also impede business activities due to unnecessary off-loading and on-loading process twice in Afghanistan thus multiplying the cost and transportation time.
The two Presidents discussed matters relating to extending air links between the two countries. Various options in this regard were explored by the two Presidents and both the sides agreed to work further on establishing air links as soon as possible.
President Emomali Rahmon appreciated President Zardari for his efforts for promoting regional connectivity which promises to usher a new era a development for the region.
Later the two Presidents left for Ismail Somoni where President Zardari laid the foundation of Pakistan Embassy Complex.
Zardari meets Karzai, agrees to joint military commission
President Zardari, proposed a trilateral trade agreement to include Tajikistan along the line of Afghanistan-PakistanTransit Trade Agreement.
During his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai here at Dushanbe - one day before the Quadrilateral Summit - President Zardari said that in order to eradicate poverty and illiteracy, the root cause of breeding militant mindset, the regional countries need to concentrate on exploring more and more economic opportunities for their people and to provide them better future prospects.
President emphasized upon the need to have trilateral trade arrangements said that such an arrangement would not only benefit the people of the three countries would also generate huge economic activity in Afghanistan.
Zardari said that connectivity through all available modes hold the key to the development of the region by tremendously boosting the mutual trade activities and prompting people to people contacts.
The two Presidents also discussed issues related to Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement. They both agreed upon the need to resolve all the issues in this regard, if any.
They also discussed issues including the situation in Afghanistan, war against militancy, regional situation, developmental projects in the region with special reference to the energy projects under consideration, reconciliation process undergoing in Afghanistan and post 2014 future scenario.
Talking about situation in Afghanistan, the President reiterated that stability and peace in Afghanistan were vital for stability and peace in Pakistan. He said that our mutual efforts have enabled us opening a new chapter in our bilateral relationship and we are keen to see a stable and peaceful Afghanistan on our western side.
Zardari said that Pakistan had always called upon the international community to support and work for the permanent solution to the issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan was ready to provide all possible assistance to the international community in this regard. He said that Pakistan would continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.
The President said that Pakistan was looking forward to the fifth meeting of the trilateral ‘Core Group’ later this month in the USA. He said that Islamabad would soon host the 2nd working level meeting of the Joint Commission for Peace Reconciliation. Zardari said that the success of Afghanistan transition hinges on the progress in reconciliation with various factions as well as preparedness to Afghan institutions to handle its responsibilities. He said that Pakistan was ready to provide all help in capacity building of Afghan institutions.
Discussing development of Afghanistan, the President highlighted that the two countries direly need energy avenues to meet their developmental requirements. He said that we should work zealously on all the energy related projects to meet our growing needs and to expedite process of development. The President also emphasized upon the early implementation of CASA-1000 project.
Recent incidents on the border also came under discussion during the meeting. The two leaders welcomed setting up of a joint military commission to deal with such unwanted incidents that could hamper the amicable equation of the two countries.
Both, Zardari and Karzai welcomed the holding of third Quadrilateral Summit in Dushanbe by Tajikistan hoping that the forum would help to bring the participating countries further closer to one another and would provide them with an opportunity to not only find ways and means for promoting development in their countries but would also help to find regional solutions to the regional problems.