September 4, 2015
By: Khan Zahid
Published in Pakistan

SARTAJ

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the  Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz Friday reiterated Pakistan’s
firm support for regional and international processes for reconstruction, development and progress of Afghanistan.

He made these  remarks at  the Regional  Economic  Cooperation Conference (RECCA) held in Kabul and which was attended among  others delegates by Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani  and  Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

He tanked Afghan President for sharing his vision to make Afghanistan a developed, prosperous and regionally integrated country. Pakistan fully supports this forward-looking and progressive vision, and the plans for regional connectivity, said a statement issued by foreign office here.

Transforming Afghanistan into an ‘Asian roundabout’ would not only require internal initiatives but also concrete and substantive cooperation of other regional countries, he said.

Pakistan is working on a number of cross-border and trans-regional connectivity projects, including infrastructure, road,rail and energy, and promotion of trade and investment. These projects include some under RECCA framework and some on the bilateral plane.

He said Pakistan had expedited work on rail connectivity projects, including Peshawar-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spinboldak Rail Links between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Besides,it was also working on the feasibility study for Peshawar-Kabul Motorway. The stalled work on Torkham-Jalalabad Additional Carriageway has started and is expected to be completed by December 2016. Pakistan is committed to extend these road networks to Central Asia.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can also play a transformative role, not only for Pakistan but for the region as a whole. Once implemented, the CPEC would provide a competitive transit route for trade between western China, which is undergoing rapid development, Central Asia and Afghanistan.

Significant breakthroughs on CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline projects have put these projects on fast-track. Pakistan is hoping to finalize the remaining issues in the coming months.

“We are also considering collaboration with Afghanistan in hydro power generation at Kunar River and a joint venture in petroleum sector.”

Besides agreeing to increase the volume of our bilateral trade, Pakistan and Afghanistan have undertaken to remove impediments to the full implementation of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APPTA).In this connection the 5th meeting of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APPTCA) was held in Islamabad on Jan.1-2 , which positively resolved a number issue relating to implementation APTTA.

He said Pakistan was now focusing on simplification of practices, business friendly visa regimes, regulations, legislations and agreements in the areas of trade and transit which facilitate the flow of goods and services, greater public-private partnership and enhanced people-to-people contacts. Pakistan has also decided to accede to the TIR Convention. This will facilitate promotion of trade between the two countries and the region.

“We are committed to enhance our assistance for training of Afghan civil servants including diplomats and police. We would also impart training to doctors, para-medical staff, teachers, postal, banking, railways, customs and civil aviation officials,” said  Sartaj  Aziz.

RECCA, over the years, has evolved into a dynamic platform, which has done a commendable work in crafting a vision and a roadmap of developmental projects complementing the Afghanistan’s National Development Strategy.

Pakistan fully subscribes to the core objectives of RECCA for promoting a robust and multi-dimensional development cooperation with Afghanistan and trans-regional development cooperation among the countries of the region.

It is heartening to note that objectives of RECCA-VI are also reinforcing framework adopted under the Heart of Asia-Istanbul process, which Pakistan is co-chairing alongside Afghanistan. This mutual reinforcement augurs well for a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan.

“I have carefully listened to my colleagues and found considerable convergence on how to move forward in a pragmatic and concrete manner to create synergies needed for benefitting from greater regional cooperation and integration,” said Sartaj Aziz.  – APP

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