ISLAMABAD, June 15 (APP): Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Wednesday said that Pakistan was keen to forge sustained and sustainable relations viz industrial cooperation with Tajikistan.

“We are particularly looking for export of heavy engineering  goods, surgical instruments and consumer goods being produced in  Pakistan under licensing arrangements with international market  leaders”, he said while addressing the inaugural session of the  5th two-day, Joint Commission (JC) on trade, economic and scientific technical cooperation of Pakistan and Tajikistan here at local  hotel.

Minister for Energy and Water Resources Republic of Tajikistan, Usmanali Usmonzoda, senior officials of Ministries of Water and Power, Economic Affairs Division were also present on the occasion.

Khawaja Asif said that Tajikistan may benefit from import  of these competitive Pakistani products which “we consider our  strength”.

The Minister said that Pakistan greatly values the warm and longstanding relations relations with brotherly country of Tajikistan.

“We are committed to further enhancing these bilateral  relations and I am confident that this Joint Ministerial Commission  would serve as a useful platform towards meeting that end”, he  added.

He said by bringing together experts of various fields of  both the countries, this Forum offered a unique opportunity for  exploring avenues of mutual cooperation and collaboration.

“It is my earnest desire that discussions by technical  teams of both countries would yield concrete measures for enhancing  not only bilateral trade but enhanced cooperation in the sphere  of communications and connectivity, defence, energy, education as  well as science and technology.”

Pakistan, he said was amongst the first countries to  recognize Tajikistan on its independence in September 1991 form  Soviet Union.

“Our formal diplomatic relations were established in July  1992 and have been developing successfully since then”, he  remarked.

Khawaja Asif said that frequent exchange of high level  visits and regular bilateral consultations between the two  countries were reflective of the fact that Pakistan and Tajikistan had laid strong foundations of mutually beneficial  relations, friendship and peaceful cooperation over the  years.

He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had  visited Tajikistan thrice since coming into power in 2013,  while President of Tajikistan Emomali Rehmon had also  reciprocated the warmth and spirit of brotherhood by  visiting Pakistan on a number of occasions over the years.

He said Pakistan had been confronted with energy  crisis for the past few years.

The present government, he said had undertaken a number of projects and initiatives to improve power generation, diversify the energy mix and plug systemic  inefficiencies like pilferage and line losses to overcome the crisis.

In this regard, he said launching of CASA 1000 project  on May 12, 2016 was not only a landmark example of cooperation  between the two countries but was also a significant milestone  in improving Pakistan’s electricity shortage and enhancing  socio-economic development of the region.

The Minister said that Prime Minister Office was monitoring  progress of this project particularly whic was indicative of the  great importance attached to and high expectations pinned on  success of this project.

Khawaja Asif also informed the participants that negotiations  were also underway for importing 1000 MW more electricity from  Tajikistan outside CASA 1000, which needed to be expedited.

He expressed the hope that deliberations of the 5th JC would prepare concrete and significant recommendations to advance further growth in various areas of mutual interests especially trade, energy, agriculture, education and industrial sector where both countries have comparative advantages.

The Minister on the occasion reminded the participants that while chairing a high a delegation level meeting in Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rehmon agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in trade, energy and connectivity.

“Emphasis of the both sides was on close collaboration  between governments and peoples of both the countries and on  bringing diversification in bilateral trade, adding value to our products.

Speaking on the occasion the visiting delegation head and Minister for Energy and Water resources, Tajikistan Usmonali Usmondzada said that his country paid particular attention to the development of friendly and mutual beneficial relations with Pakistan.

The further expansion of cooperation, he said, in commercial and economic, agriculture, education, culture, health care, foreign trade, investment and banking activities, energy, water, exploration and extraction of oil and gas, transport and communication was one
of the main directions of regional and international policy of independent Tajikistan.

He said that CASA 100 was the first inter-regional joint project
of the Central and South Asia Countries, which would connect the power grid of the republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz republic, Islamic
republic of Afghanistan, and Islamic republic of Pakistan.

He hope that the project would reduce the energy deficit, would contribute to the formation of the energy market, the establishment of trade cooperation of partner countries, creation of new job opportunities, taking into account a number of economic , social and environmental benefits.