US withdrawal from Afghanistan
Zardari wants closer ties with Tajikistan
* President calls for boosting cooperation in defence, security and intelligence fields
DUSHANBE: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday said that in the post-2014 geo-strategic scenario after drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan, it was important that Pakistan and Tajikistan developed closer cooperation in all fields, particularly in the areas of defence, security and intelligence.
The president floated a proposal that the interior ministers of both countries should meet regularly and more often for this purpose.
The proposal was mooted and instantly accepted by Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon during a meeting between the two leaders soon after President Zardari arrived from Islamabad on a two-day visit to this Central Asian state which is separated from Pakistan only by a narrow strip of Wakhan in Afghanistan.
It was decided that modalities for the meetings between the interior ministers would be worked out during the current visit.
The president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that soon after arrival, the president drove straight to inaugurate a National Bank branch in Dushanbe, describing it as a step to further cement business and trade relations Tajikistan.
The delegation-level meeting was attended by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan Amjad Hussain B Sial, Farhatullah Babar, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani, Senator Abbas Khan and other senior officials of the Foreign Office.
During the delegation-level talks, the Tajik president was assisted by Tajik ministers and senior officials.
Babar said that the president also proposed regular consultations by the foreign offices of both the countries and relevant agencies to prepare plans for the evolving scenario as a result of the drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
President Zardari said that a stable Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan, Tajikistan and other countries of the region, adding that Pakistan supported Afghan-led reconciliation process for bringing stability in that country.
The president also called for removing impediments in developing closer economic cooperation by improving air, road and rail connectivity and stepped up people-to-people contacts and tourism.
Zardari also proposed that the two countries might consider a policy of issuance of visa on arrival for a period of one month to bona fide businessmen and tourists.
Liberalisation of visa regime has contributed to the enhancement of trade but it is still below the actual potential, he said, adding, “We need to further liberalise the visa regime for genuine businessmen.”
The president said that Gwadar Port provided new vistas of trade for Tajikistan and Central Asia and Tajikistan, being a transit country for Europe, will benefit immensely from it.
The president also called for early finalisation of a transit agreement between Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan to take full advantage of Gwadar Port facility, saying that it would be a win-win for all the three countries involved. app