190210 Imran Khan
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan held crucial meetings with presidents of regional countries to discuss developments in Afghanistan and the way forward to enhance regional trade and connectivity.

The Pakistan premier is in Tajikistan on a two-day (September 16-17) visit to attend the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Heads of State Summit in Dushanbe. He was received by Tajikistan’s Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda at the airport following which they had a meeting to discuss the expansion of bilateral ties and the regional security situation.

On Thursday, Pakistan PM Khan held separate meetings with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. The focus of the discussion was primarily Afghanistan as well as regional connectivity and expansion of SCO for greater collaboration in the region.

PM Khan is accompanied by key ministers including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf Information, Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, accompanied the prime minister. This is the third visit of the Prime Minister to Central Asia, emphasizing Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with the region.

PM Khan’s delegation comprised of top Pakistan businessmen from multiple sectors including textiles, minerals, pharmaceuticals and logistics to develop trade and economic linkages with the Central Asian States. On September 16, PM Imran Khan inaugurated and addressed the Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum where he announced new incentives for the business groups in Pakistan. Khan Thursday invited the business community of Tajikistan to invest in Pakistan, assuring them of all-out facilitation by his government.

The visit is part of Pakistan’s increased regional engagement under the ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy, which aims to connect Pakistan with the Central Asian region. The policy focuses on five key areas: political ties, trade and investment, energy and connectivity, security and defence, and people-to-people contacts.

The SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO Observer states include Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia. The SCO also has six dialogue partners, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.