Islamabad: The leaders of Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to improve connectivity and boost bilateral cooperation in trade, security, and defense sectors during a virtual summit.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev underscored the importance of regional connectivity to strengthen the foundation for economic development and prosperity. They also reviewed progress on the Pakistan-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan mega railway project aimed at improving regional trade and connectivity, offering the landlocked region direct access to the Arabian Sea.
During the virtual summit, the two countries inked several agreements including memorandums of understanding on defense cooperation, collaboration in agriculture and mutual recognition in the fields of conformity assessment of products, standardization, metrology and technical assistance, and an agreement on defense cooperation.
The two leaders agreed to build constructive cooperation in the area of security and defence, according to the joint declaration issued following the Uzbek-Pakistan Summit on April 14. Pakistan and Uzbekistan would also expand cooperation to boost the capacity of law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. Military cooperation between the two countries would also be strengthened with joint exercises and training, the statement said.
Recognizing the enormous economic potential, the two leaders vowed to enhance the volume of bilateral trade by diversification of trade, exchange of business delegations, extending visa facilitation and the signing of the preferential trade agreement. Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to promote collaboration in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, textile, leather and chemical industry, energy and information technology during the summit.
Pakistan’s prime minister and Uzbekistan’s president also decided to improve connectivity via flights and trains for regional economic growth. The railway project was described as a significant initiative to connect Central Asia to the Arabian Sea through Afghanistan to Pakistan’s seaports of Karachi, Gwadar and Qasim. The leaders also agreed to boost people-to-people contacts, including through religious tourism and collaboration between universities, research institutions, and museums.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues including the Afghanistan peace process and emphasized closer coordination at international fora on issues of mutual
convergence. They underlined the significance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an important platform and reaffirmed the resolve to support each other at the UN, SCO, OIC, ECO and other forums. They also voiced support for joint actions to curb human rights violations and combating Islamophobia and strengthening interfaith harmony.
Khan invited the Uzbek leader to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience. Mirziyoyev again invited Khan to attend the high-level International Conference on Regional Connectivity in Tashkent in July this year.