Home General PM Imran and Uzbek President hold virtual summit, seek linkages

PM Imran and Uzbek President hold virtual summit, seek linkages

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has underlined the need for strengthening trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
The prime minister made these remarks during a virtual summit with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Wednesday.
The prime minister stressed for early finalisation of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and Transit Trade Agreement (TTA) between the two countries. He also underlined the importance of enhancing political and diplomatic linkages as well as security and defence cooperation between Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
He said that steps also need to be taken to deepen mutual collaboration in the fields of education, culture, and tourism. The prime minister highlighted Pakistan’s economic security paradigm and the shifting focus to geo-economics.
The level of progress on the Trans-Afghan Railway Line Project, agreed among Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan earlier this year, was reviewed during the summit. The project would be a first step in linking the Central Asian transport network with Pakistani seaports of Gwadar, Karachi and Qasim.
The prime minister also underscored the importance of rail, road and air connectivity and highlighted the enormous potential that exists in diverse fields to build an expanded mutually beneficial partnership. The prime minister stated that once completed, the initiative would transform the geo-economic dynamics of the entire regime.
Prime Minister Khan apprised the Uzbek president of Pakistan’s perspective on issues of peace and security in South Asia, and underlined the imperative of peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. He also highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Khan stressed that this historic opportunity must be seized by the Afghan parties to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated political settlement. The prime minister also underscored the importance of countering Islamophobia and promoting inter-faith harmony.
President Mirziyoyev reiterated his invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend the high-level International Conference on Regional Connectivity, to be held in Tashkent in July 2021. The premier thanked President Mirziyoyev and reiterated his invitation to him to visit Pakistan at the earliest convenience.
A joint declaration was adopted at the conclusion of the summit.
The two countries also signed an agreement and two memoranda of understanding on the occasion of the virtual summit.
During the wide-ranging talks, views were exchanged on bilateral, regional and international issues. The two sides highlighted the depth of Pakistan-Uzbekistan relations rooted in common faith, shared history and cultural affinities, read an official statement.
“They also reiterated their determination to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges and further enhance the upward trajectory of the relationship. The two leaders reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations – with particular focus on political, trade, security and defence, educational and cultural domains.”
“They also agreed to encourage more people-to-people contacts including through spiritual tourism,” the statement added.
The two leaders also discussed important global and regional matters of mutual interest, and reaffirmed the commitment to continue supporting each other at all international and regional fora, including the UN, OIC, SCO and ECO, the statement said.
The agreements and MoUs signed included developing cooperation in the field of agriculture, mutual recognition in conformity assessment of products, standardisation, metrology and technical assistance, and defence cooperation.
The two also leaders expressed confidence that the understandings reached during the summit will further deepen bilateral cooperation and contribute towards forging a stronger, multi-dimensional relationship between the two countries.
It was agreed to continue the summit-level political dialogue in future. A joint declaration was adopted at the conclusion of the summit.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated that there can be no two different sets of laws for the powerful and the poor as the destruction of a society has always been caused by the powerful elite.
Talking to the media persons in Sargodha on Wednesday, the prime minister said, “The elite and the powerful are the actual menaces behind the country’s downfall.”
He maintained, “If you combine the amount of corruption done by all poor people in jails, it will amount to a maximum of Rs2-3 billion.”
He said that the government conducted an inquiry through the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which submitted a startling report showing how the mill owners and powerful people had minted money by increasing price and tax evasion.
Imran Khan said that sugar price had been increased by Rs26 in one year and the mill owners extracted Rs126 to Rs140 billion from the pockets of people.
Responding to a question on Jahangir Tareen’s hearings, the PM said: “I am ready to listen to everyone’s reservations, but there is one thing they should understand. Sugar prices increased by Rs26 in a year or so.”
The premier, speaking on PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif’s bail, said if they are unable to convict people against whom evidence is available, the country cannot prosper.
The prime minister said banks were reluctant to grant loans to people due to the laws in the country; however, after his government introduced the foreclosure law, banks have started providing loans for house building. “We are training the banks on how to treat people when they approach them for their service,” the prime minister said.
The premier added that through the state’s low-cost housing scheme, people will now have to pay less money in instalments for their houses. “We have also set a ceiling for the interest rates at which banks provide loans – easing the process for the masses,” he further said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that 31 sites have been selected in peri-urban areas in Punjab for low-cost housing projects to provide affordable houses to the low-income class on instalments.
The prime minister said this after performing the ground breaking of a low-cost housing project under Naya Pakistan Housing Programme in Sargodha on Wednesday.
“We have initiated this project in 31 districts for the time being and will expand it to more districts in the time to come,” the prime minister further said. This would set off an economical revolution in Pakistan and allow the economy to flourish, the premier added.
“The construction industry is linked with 30 other industries of the country,” he said and added, “when it’s set into action, it enables wealth creation and employment opportunities for the youth, thus boosting the country’s economy.”
The premier further said that it is a project of national stature for the salaried class of Pakistan. “Punjab has taken the lead, and we will make sure that there are more such schemes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too.” He reiterated that the passage of foreclosure law enabled banks to lend loans for housing under the scheme.
“No one paid attention to the issue of housing in the past, causing slums to emerge across the country.”
Under this scheme in Sargodha district, a total of 1,175 houses of three Marla will be constructed at six locations. Punjab government will provide land as well as other facilities for this project.
The construction work will be carried out by Frontier Works Organization. The mortgage facility will be provided by Punjab Bank which will enable the deserving people to pay the total amount of a house through easy instalments. A total of 33,528 applications have been received for this housing project and the houses will be allotted through balloting.
On April 8, the premier laid the foundation stone of a housing scheme in Islamabad, announcing that 2,000 people would be able to own houses under the project.
Last month, the premier inaugurated a labourers’ complex in the federal capital as part of the scheme. “This is a major achievement,” the premier had said while addressing a ceremony held for the allotment of 1,500 houses.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has wished the Sikh community in Pakistan a happy Baisakhi festival.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the prime minister said, “We have granted Sikh Diaspora and Indian Yatrees special permission to visit their holy Gurdwaras in Pakistan and attend the Baisakhi rituals.”
He said they will be facilitated with Langar, transport and accommodation under strict coronavirus protocols on the occasion. The premier said that the community has been given special permission to visit their holy Gurdwaras in Pakistan and attend the Baisakhi rituals.
“Wishing our Sikh community a happy Baisakhi festival. We have granted Sikh Diaspora and Indian Yatrees special permission to visit their holy Gurdwaras in Pak and attend the Baisakhi rituals,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.
The Baisakhi festival marks New Year’s Day for the Sikh community. On that day, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and the last Sikh Guru, had established the Khalsa in 1699. – TLTP