Pakistan and Uzbekistan Thursday agreed to further deepen their bilateral ties by enhancing regional connectivity, promoting pilgrimage tourism and cultural exchanges besides reviving the traditional cooperative partnership.
The bilateral ties were discussed in a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev as well as the delegation-level talks held here which besides bilateral cooperation, also focused on the issues including the prevailing situation in Afghanistan as well as the Islamophobia.
Following the interaction, both the prime minister and the Uzbek president addressed a joint press stakeout wherein they expressed satisfaction over the increasing volume of bilateral trade and interaction between the two business communities.
Prime Minister Imran Khan told the media that it was pleasing that the bilateral trade had increased by 50% during the last year and the joint ventures between the two business communities had increased five-folds.
He said during the meeting they had decided to revive the centuries-old relationship between Uzbekistan and this region which suffered a disconnect during the last around 150 years. He said both sides have agreed to reinvigorate the relationship not only by enhancing the trade but also through cultural linkages as both the countries had shared culture and history.
He told the media that they would also attend an interaction between the two business communities to be held Friday to discuss ways to further enhance the trade and investment cooperation.
Thanking the Uzbek president for presenting a book revealing around 3,000 common words between Urdu and Uzbek languages, the prime minister said both the countries had also decided to produce a film on Uzbek-origin Mughal Emperor Zaheeruddin Babar.
He said both sides had agreed to enhance connectivity via Afghanistan not only by road or air but also through train which would connect Pakistan with Centra Asia and vice versa.
The prime minister also apprised the visiting dignitary of Pakistan’s stance on the unabated human rights abuses in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, urging the international community to play its role in the enforcement of the multiple UN Security Resolutions on the issue.
While discussing Islamophobia, the two leaders agreed that any desecration of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) could not be allowed in the name of freedom of speech which also necessitated a joint action by the Muslim countries.
President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev was given a red carpet welcome as he arrived at PM Office, he was also given guard of honour by the contingents of the three services.
🇵🇰🇺🇿 #WelcomeUzbekPresident pic.twitter.com/sriktWy9Ih
— Government of Pakistan (@GovtofPakistan) March 3, 2022
The prime minister also appreciated the statements of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opposing the desecration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) on the pretext of the freedom of speech.
He told media that the connectivity projects would not only benefit the people of Pakistan and Uzbekistan but also Afghanistan who had suffered a lot during last 40 years.
He said the two countries decided to lobby for unfreezing the Afghan government’s assets in the foreign banks besides discussing the ways which could lead towards the recognition of the Afghan government.
Uzbekistan thanks Pakistan
In his remarks, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev thanked the government and people of Pakistan for warm hospitality to his delegation as on his arrival, Prime Minister Imran Khan received him at the airport and later was given a guard of honor at the PM Office.
The Uzbek president appreciated the economic, political and cultural development Pakistan had been achieving under the leadership of Imran Khan.
He said his long-awaited visit was delayed due to the COVID pandemic; however, it was taking place on the 30th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations.
He said both the countries were not only building the strategic partnership but also a bridge between South Asia and Central Asia.
Mirziyoyev observed that the economic and trade cooperation was growing fast between the two countries and underscored the huge existing opportunities for cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, and science and technology.
He said the signing of the preferential trade agreement was another important step in strengthening the bilateral cooperation and added that the two sides pointed out to start work on the train project connecting Pakistan with Uzbekistan via Afghanistan.
He told the media that both sides expressed concerns over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and urged the international community to pay attention to the situation including the unfreezing of the assets.
He said Uzbekistan expressed its full support for Pakistan’s candidacy for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for 2025-2026.
He said the acquaintance with the Urdu language was increasing in Uzbekistan and mentioned the introduction of subjects of Urdu and Pakistan’s history in Uzbek universities.