ISLAMABAD :(Web Desk)- Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that Islamabad and Tashkent are working to repair the 500-year old ties that the South Asia region had with Uzbekistan.
“This region has had relations with Uzbekistan for 500 years. These ties had ended 150 years ago and we will repair them,” said PM Imran in a joint press conference with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The press conference was held after the two sides signed nine MoUs and agreements.
The premier, while welcoming the Uzbek president, said that trade between the two countries had increased by 50% within a year.
PM Imran said that Tashkent and Islamabad are jointly developing a film on Mughal emperor Zaheeruddin Babar.
On his one-on-one meeting with the Uzbek leader, the PM briefed the visiting official on the Kashmir issue, adding that Islamabad and Tashkent have a shared stance on Islamophobia.
The premier also said that both the countries are looking to expand ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan via Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the Uzbek president thanked the Pakistani leadership and people for their hospitality.
“I was eagerly waiting to visit Pakistan but it was delayed due to the coronavirus,” said the Uzbek president. He added that both the countries are working to revive the “cultural links”.
In his talks with PM Imran, the Uzbek leader said that their discussions on “various issues” was constructive.
Joint deceleration on strategic partnership
PM Imran and President Mirziyoyev also signed a joint declaration on the “next steps in the strategic partnership” between the two countries.
The declaration issued by the PM office said that the leaders of the two countries held comprehensive consultations and considered all aspects of bilateral relations, paying special attention to the development of cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, science and technology, culture, education, security and defence, and regional connectivity.
Emphasising the centuries-old historical, religious, cultural and scientific ties between the two peoples and based on previously reached agreements, the parties agreed to further deepen and expand strategic partnership in all areas and in this context, decided to conclude a treaty on strategic partnership,” said the statement.
Both the leaders also exchanged views on issues of global and regional importance they also reaffirmed their commitment to closely interact on common positions and to continue the practice of mutual support at international and regional forums on all issues of mutual interest.
According to the statement, President Mirziyoyev shared his vision on the “New Uzbekistan” strategy with PM Imran. While the Pakistani premier shared his “outlined his vision of ‘Naya Pakistan’ that is centred on social justice and economic security”.
“The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation between the parliamentary bodies, exchange visits of the leaders of the Senate and the National Assembly of Pakistan and the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and hold meetings between the established inter-parliamentary groups of friendship and cooperation,” said the statement.
The statement said that the two leaders also “agreed on the need to fast track measures to further expand the connectivity agenda and economic integration”.
“The Leaders reaffirmed the important role of the Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project for the future of the region. It was agreed to evolve a joint “road map,” which includes measures to develop a feasibility study for the project and start construction work on both sides. They acknowledged that the Trans-Afghan Railway project is the most economical and shortest route connecting Central Asia with Pakistan’s ports of Karachi, Gwadar and Qasim,” said the statement.
The leaders have also agreed to “facilitate tourism and business linkages between the two countries” and launch regular flights from Tashkent-Lahore and Islamabad-Tashkent.
The statement also said that Uzbekistan has assured “its full support for Pakistan’s candidacy for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for 2025-2026”.
Meanwhile, President Mirziyoyev has invited PM Imran to pay an official visit to Uzbekistan at a convenient time.
Other agreements signed between the two countries included “agreement on Cooperation in the field Television and Radio Broadcasting between the National Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan and the Pakistan Television Corporation”. An MoU was also signed between Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport and Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to promote pilgrimage tourism.
An MoU was also signed on Cooperation in the Environment and Climate Change. While two countries also signed a “Preferential Trade Agreement”.
“The Action Plan of practical measures (Roadmap) to further develop cooperation between Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Republic of Uzbekistan in the fields of Security” was also signed.
An MoU between Pakistan’s Ministry of Railways and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Transport was also signed.
Other two MoUs were signed on cooperation between Khokimiyat of Tashkent City and the Administration of Islamabad City, and an MoU on cooperation between Surkhandarya Region of Uzbekistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was also signed.
Uzbek president given guard of honour
Ahead of his one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Imran, the Uzbek president was given a red-carpet welcome. The visiting official was also given a guard of honour by the contingents of the three services.
The visiting dignitary also planted a sapling on the lawn of the PM Office.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had received Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev upon his arrival in Islamabad as he arrived in the country for a two-day visit.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier received the Uzbek president at the Noor Khan Airbase at Chaklala, Rawalpindi.
This is the Uzbek president’s maiden visit to Pakistan after taking over his country’s highest office in 2016. He is in Islamabad at the invitation of PM Imran.
After receiving the guard of honour, the Uzbek president and the PM introduced their respective delegations to each other before proceeding for a one-on-one meeting.
Two kids clad in cultural dresses presented a bouquet to the guest as cannons boomed on his arrival.
The Uzbek president is leading a high-level delegation that includes cabinet members and businessmen.
The Foreign Office spokesperson, in its curtain raiser of the visit, had said that President Mirziyoyev’s arrival marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Uzbekistan.