ASTANA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the purpose of his visit to Kazakhstan was to further strengthen ties, expand cooperation in different areas, and increase bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation.
“There is a large scope for trade in textile and cotton products, pharmaceuticals, food items, engineering equipment and machinery and construction enterprises,” Nawaz mentioned as he met his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov.
“Pakistan’s ports (Gawadar and Karachi) provide the shortest route to sea for the Central Asian Republics (CARs),” he said, adding Pakistan was eager to see a prosperous Central Asia with all countries connected by rail, road and air-links and generating business.
“Pakistan offers Kazakhstan the shortest access to the sea.”
Most of the Central Asian States had shown keen interest in using Pakistan’s sea ports for their exports, he added.
Three MOUs signed
Pakistan and Kazakhstan signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, defense and strategic studies and training in foreign services.
Nawaz and his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov witnessed the signing of MoUs.
Meanwhile, in a detailed interview published in the Astana Times, the leading English daily of Kazakhstan, he said the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan was far below its potential. There existed tremendous potential for enhancing the same, he added.
He stressed that both sides needed to make efforts to utilise all available options, while simultaneously exploring new areas of cooperation.
Responding to a question, Nawaz said that Pakistan supported the Conference for Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) process and actively participated in its activities.
Pakistan had recently joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which was also an important organization, he added.
“Pakistan believes that adherence to the UN Charter is essential for peace, stability and security in Asia. Principles of non-interference in internal affairs, development of friendly relations and settlement of disputes through dialogue should be promoted. There is an intrinsic link between development and security. Therefore, we should focus on regional connectivity and building economic synergies,” he said.
“Pakistan admires Kazakhstan’s role for the international peace and security and has full confidence in our brotherly country and its visionary leadership. The Kazakh leadership created CICA, which contributes to peace and security. Kazakhstan is also an important member of SCO. We welcome Kazakhstan’s increasing role as a peace building center,” Nawaz added.
The prime minister also supported Kazakhstan’s candidature for election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the term 2017-2018.
Replying to a query, he said that Pakistan viewed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a means to achieve its objective of regional connectivity and growth opportunity for the entire region and which would create a win-win situation for all.
About Afghan peace and reconciliation process, Nawaz said they fully supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
Stability and peace in Afghanistan was very important for Pakistan and the region, he added. To another question, the Prime Minister said that they had launched the Operation Zarb-i-Azb to eradicate the menace of extremism and terrorism and it was successfully going on.