Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday has said that the country will provide all means of help to foreign investors to create ease in doing business within the country.
The PM reached Tajikistan on a two-day visit, wherein he will attend the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’sHeads of State Summit in Dushanbe, according to a tweet by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The prime minister was received by Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda and was accorded a red carpet welcome at Dushanbe International Airport,” the tweet said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is accompanying the premier on the visit.
After reaching Dushanbe, he tweeted: “Pleased to be in Tajikistan with PM Imran Khan for his third visit to Central Asia, underlining Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with the region.”
Shortly after arrival, the prime minister inaugurated the maiden meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum, for which a group of Pakistani businessmen have also travelled to Tajikistan.
“I believe we have representatives of 67 Pakistani companies here in Dushanbe. They come from different fields, including textiles, pharmaceuticals, and logistics,” the premier said while addressing an event where businessmen from Pakistan and Tajikistan were in attendance, the premier said he wanted to speak to a joint gathering of businessmen from both countries.
The prime minister lamented that the cost of electricity was too high in Pakistan. “We want the CASA-1000 energy project to be completed soon,” he said. “There are lots of opportunities related to the clean energy projects in Tajikistan.”
He extended an invitation to Tajikistan’s businessmen to invest in Pakistan, adding that the Pakistani government was creating opportunities and removing hurdles for its own business community as well.
“We will provide every help possible to investors in Pakistan,” said the prime minister.
He said Pakistan, with a population of 220m people, was a “huge market” for the Tajik business community and investors. Inviting them to Pakistan, he assured them of government facilitation to make the business activity easier.
The premier said that both countries would benefit from more trade.
He also praised Tajikistan’s cheap and clean energy, particularly hydroelectricity, saying: “Unfortunately we have very expensive electricity in Pakistan.”
The premier said work on the CASA-1000 power transmission line would be expedited so Pakistan too could benefit from “your clean and cheap energy [such as] hydroelectricity”.
On Afghanistan, the prime minister prayed for peace in the country, saying that it was “extremely important” for Pakistan-Tajikistan trade due to better connectivity.
“Your president and I will be trying everything to make sure there is peace [in Afghanistan], especially between the two major communities of Tajiks and Pakhtuns. We will be doing our best to make sure they get together and there is an inclusive government,” he said.
Earlier, Radio Pakistan had reported that the prime minister was accompanied by a high-level ministerial delegation and “will have bilateral meetings with other participating leaders on the sidelines of the SCO summit”.
It added that the prime minister will hold bilateral meetings after the moot.
PM Imran’s talks with the Tajik president will cover “the entire gamut of bilateral relations, especially enhancing trade, economic and investment ties with a particular focus on regional connectivity”, the report said.
The prime minister will also inaugurate the maiden meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum, for which a group of Pakistani businessmen will also visit Dushanbe.
The joint business forum will catalyse growing trade and investment relations and promote business-to-business contacts between the trading communities of both countries, the report added.
A meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council will also be held on the sidelines, the report said.
The SCO was founded in Shanghai in 2001 by the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China.
It evolved from an earlier regional security grouping formed in 1996 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the Central Asian states gained independence from Moscow.
Initially focused on regional security, its activities have expanded to cover economics and trade, transport and law enforcement. However, security and economic cooperation remain priorities.
Pakistan was admitted to the SCO as an observer in 2005 and as a full member in 2017.
Separately, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhary Fawad Hussain has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Tajikistan will prove to be an important milestone and further increase the prestige of Pakistan.
In a message regarding the Prime Minister’s visit to Dushanbe, the Information Minister said Imran Khan will hold meetings with the Iranian President, the Foreign Minister of China and the leadership of Central Asian States on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.
The Information Minister said situation in Afghanistan will be discussed in the SCO summit. He said Pakistan recognizes Tajikistan’s important role in Afghanistan.
He said this visit will provide an opportunity to further our doctrine for a stable and inclusive government in Afghanistan and move towards a regional solution.
As regards bilateral relations, the Information Minister said Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with Tajikistan.
He said the Prime Minister will attend a business conference in Dushanbe which will discuss ways and means to further promote business linkages between the two countries.
with additional input from INP