Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Sunday said that he would take up the Pakistan-Tajikistan road project with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the forthcoming summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to be held in the Maldives next month.
The prime minister was talking to Gilgit-Baltistan Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah, who called on him at the Prime Minister House in the federal capital. He said that the completion of the project would provide the shortest possible route to the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, besides reinvigorating their historical, cultural and trade ties spread over hundreds of years.
The road project as visualised will connect Pakistan with Tajikistan by passing through eight-kilometre-long Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan.
The prime minister said the project was compatible with the agenda of Saarc summit which is called ‘Connectivity’.
The prime minister said it was his vision to develop good relations with the countries of the region. “I visited a number of countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, India, Iran, China and the Central Asian Republics to further my vision,” he said.
Gilani said that connectivity was intertwined with transit trade and Pakistan was keen to enhance trade with Afghanistan and beyond.
Recalling the signing of Transit Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said that trade among the countries of the region had to be enhanced for which establishment of road and rail networks was essential. Premier Gilani said that he would highlight the cause of connectivity at the Saarc summit because it would not only build bridges among people of the member countries but also create an enabling environment for their socio-economic development.
The Gilgit Baltistan governor told the prime minister that the construction of road on Pakistan’s side would require Rs2 billion, while Tajikistan had already completed the construction of road and bridge on its side of border. He said that he recently travelled to Tajikistan via old route to meet his relatives and friends there.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2011.
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