ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that Pakistan was committed to early completion of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, considering it a new chapter in economic collaboration and greater regional integration with Central Asia.
In a joint media stakeout after a delegation-level talks and earlier holding one-on-one meeting, both the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were of the view that threat of extremism and terrorism needed to be countered collectively to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Both the leaders also saw inking of eight accords on cooperation including an MoU on financial intelligence to curb money laundering and terrorism financing.
Talking to media Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan shared the concern that terrorism and extremism were the root cause of insecurity and instability in the region.
President Berdimuhammadov said both the countries were facing common challenges and “combating common threats is our goal.
Sharif said both Pakistan and Turkmenistan had good coordination at international fora and would continue to work together for regional and international peace and security.
Sharif said it was his third meeting with the President of Turkmenistan in nine months and said it was reflective of the depth, warmth and cordiality between the two countries.
He said the deep seaports provide shortest route to the Arabian Sea to Turkmenistan and other Central Asian States.
“We will be happy to see our brothers in Central Asia using these facilities,” he said.
The prime minister said regional connectivity was an important pillar of Pakistan’s Vision 2025, aimed at making the country a hub of regional trade and commerce.
“We are closely working with Turkmenistan for improving infrastructure development for better regional connectivity,” he added.
He said it would be conducive to the promotion of economic relations, people to people contacts and tourism.
Sharif termed the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) a “mega-energy cooperation project in the region.
He said it would greatly help Pakistan in mitigating the shortage of natural gas in Pakistan.
President Berdimuhamedov said the early completion of the Tapi gas pipeline project would not only solidify the relations between all the participating countries, but also create new opportunities.
“The gas line will bring warmth and cordiality, and generate economic activity, create job opportunities and improve the living standards,” President Berdimuhamedov said.
He said the Tapi had a great impetus to boost socio-economic cooperation and hoped the project would soon be implemented.
He said the two countries also had great cooperation in culture, science and education, relations dating back to centuries, and a desire to reach out to the people in neighbouring countries.
Sharif recalled inking of the MoU with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan for import of 1000MW of electricity from Turkmenistan and said it would help the country reduce its energy deficit.
“We have agreement that the work on this important project should be undertaken on a fast track,” he added.
Sharif said the regional energy projects would facilitate regional connectivity and contribute to peace, stability and security by creating interdependence in the region.
President Berdimuhamedov said the talks between the two sides also focussed on cooperation in these vital areas.
He hoped his ongoing visit to Pakistan would prove to be very beneficial and open new vistas of cooperation between them.
The President of Turkmenistan concluded his remarks with a wish for peace, progress and prosperity of Pakistan.
President Berdimuhamedov expressed gratitude to the prime minister, the people and government of Pakistan for the warm hospitality and hoped his visit would further strengthen the “friendly and brotherly ties” between the two countries.
He said the agreements inked on Wednesday between Pakistan and Turkmenistan would further boost their bilateral ties.
He said his government and people closely monitor every achievement of Pakistan and sincerely wished it success and prosperity.
The prime minister welcomed Turkmenistan’s offer for export of 1000 mega watt electricity to Pakistan and signing of tripartite MoU during his visit to Turkmenistan last December.
Sharif stressed the need for greater cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture, education, science and technology, infrastructure and transportation.
He said Pakistan looked towards Turkmenistan for future energy security and offered Turkmenistan to take advantage of Pakistani ports for its exports and imports.
The prime minister said the bilateral trade of US$25.
11 million needed to be increased and stressed the need for facilitating business visas and relaxing visa regime for further promotion of economic relations.
The agreements and MoUs inked between the two countries included; The Programme of Cooperation 2016-17 between the ministries of foreign affairs was signed by Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing was inked by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his Turkmen counterpart Muhammetguly Muhammedov.
The MoU on cooperation in the field of energy was signed by Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Turkmenistan’s Minister for Oil and Gas Myraigeldi Meredov.
The MoU between National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Pakistan and Magtymguly Turkmen State University (MTSU), Turkmenistan was signed by Rector NUML Maj Gen (r) Ziauddin Najam and Rector MTSU Gurtnyyaz Hanmyradov.
The Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies (IPDS), Pakistan signed two separate MoUs with an international university for Humanities and Development (IUHD), Ashgabat and Institute of International Relations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkmenistan (IIT).
President IPDS Farhat Asif, Rector IUHD Esen Aydogdiev and Rector IIT Baba Zahyrov signed the respective documents.
The MoU between COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management (TSIEM) was signed by Rector COMSATS Junaid Zaidi and Rector TSIEM Owezgeldi Ishanguliev.
The COMSATS Centre of Policy Studies and Institute of International Relations, Turkmenistan was inked by Rector Junaid Zaidi and Baba Zahyrov.
Those present on the occasion included Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif, Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, National Security Advisor Nasser Khan Janjua and Ambassador to Turkmenistan Dr Abdul Malik.
The Turkmen side included Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the cabinet of ministers Yagshigeldi Kakayev and Minister of Finance Muhammetguly Muhammedov.