Pak-Uzbek ties make big leap forward

TASHKENT: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said with Pakistan and Uzbekistan sharing the same objective of lifting their people out of poverty, increased and strong trade and economic relations would be mutually beneficial and a win-win for the two sides.

“Uzbekistan can benefit from Pakistan’s geo-strategic location, a market of 220 million people and providing access to the Middle East and Africa, while Pakistan can have access to the Central Asian states through Uzbekistan, an important country of the region,” he remarked.

The prime minister expressed these views while addressing a joint press conference with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev after holding an in-depth discussion on various issues of mutual interest.

Stressing on the importance of economic cooperation, Imran Khan said the two countries have been following similar visions of ‘a new Uzbekistan’ and ‘a new Pakistan’ to lift their people out of poverty.

It was a model of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), who established the first welfare state and ensured inclusive development by taking care of the poor and downtrodden, he added.

The prime minister said Pakistan, with a shift from geo-strategic to geo-economics, wants to strengthen its trade and economic relations. Pakistan’s strong trade relations with Uzbekistan, which is a big country in Central Asia, would be a win-win for the two countries.

He said Pakistan’s seriousness to have strong trade and economic relations could be gauged from the visit of biggest-ever country’s trade delegation comprising representatives of as many as 130 large business houses.

The prime minister said when he was leaving for Tashkent, he received messages from a number of Pakistani businessmen expressing their desire to be part of the delegation.

He welcomed the agreements signed between the two countries’ private sectors, saying it is very important and will benefit both Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Imran said Pakistan wanted to benefit from the expertise of Uzbekistan, which manufactures agricultural implements.

Besides, he said, Pakistan has also sought help and cooperation from Uzbekistan in cotton seed.

Lauding the passion of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on a railway project from Pakistan to Uzbekistan through Peshawar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif, the prime minister said it is the very project for regional connectivity and assured him that Pakistan will fully pursue and push for its realization.

He said during the talks, the two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan. As the brotherly people of Afghanistan are suffering from hardships for the last 40 years, now there should be peace and a peaceful settlement, he added.

He said the two sides also agreed to arrange a meeting of foreign ministers of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Turkey before a summit level meeting to discuss the Afghan situation and find a way to prevent the outbreak of a civil war in the brotherly country,

The prime minister further said that in order to strengthen cultural relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan, the two sides have decided to make a film on Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babur, the founder of Mughal empire and the first Emperor of Mughal dynasty in the Indian sub-continent, which was a superpower of that time with 25% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said the youth of Pakistan and Uzbekistan must know the history and culture of Muslims and their leaders. They could also make films on Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Mirza Ghalib and Imam Bukhari, he added.

Imran Khan said when the people of the two countries got closer through enhanced cultural exchanges and relations, he would also introduce and work for the promotion of cricket in Uzbekistan.

The prime minister thanked the Uzbek side for the warm hospitality given to him and his delegation. This was his first visit to Uzbekistan. He said he and his delegation were very excited to visit the historic cities of Bukhara and Samarkand on Friday.

Imran on the occasion also invited the Uzbek President to visit Pakistan, which the latter accepted.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in his remarks, said Uzbekistan wants to have robust political and economic relations with Pakistan, which is a strong country in South Asia.

He said since Uzbekistan and Pakistan have a strong and historic relationship, rooted in identical values and culture, the visit of Prime Minister Imran along with a large delegation would help further strengthen the ties.

The Uzbek president also expressed his pleasure over the signing of a Joint Agreement on Strategic Partnership as well as the trade agreements worth US $ 500 million signed between the two private sector businessmen.

He said the realization and implementation of railway project from Uzbekistan to Pakistan would strengthen connectivity for the mutual benefit.

President Mirziyoyev, while highlighting the importance of people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges, said the people of Uzbekistan are keen to see the historical mosques and places in Lahore.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership.

They also witnessed the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for cooperation in the areas of transit trade, military education, simplification of visa procedures for businessmen and tourists, cultural exchanges, and tourism.