Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Dushanbe/Tajikistan,May11(APP)Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon on Wednesday agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in areas of trade, energy and connectivity.

Chairing the delegation-level meeting held here at Qasr-e-Millat -the presidential palace - the two leaders emphasized on close collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan at the levels of governments and people.

The Prime Minister arrived here this afternoon to attend the launching ceremony of Central Asia South Asia (CASA-1000) to be held on Thursday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his remarks at the meeting said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Central Asia, particularly Tajikistan, which is geographically closest to it among all Central Asian states.

Nawaz Sharif said CASA-1000 would prove a significant milestone for Pakistan to minimize its electricity shortage and apprised the Tajik President of his vision to overcome power crisis in the country by 2018.Both leaders agreed that connectivity holds key to regional integration and expressed satisfaction over the recent launch of direct flights of Tajikistan's Somon Air from Lahore to Dushanbe.

Nawaz Sharif mentioned that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan had steadily risen to US$15 million in 2011 to US$ 89 million in 2014 and called for taking steps  to achieve the target of US$ 500 million in three years.

He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would provide new opportunities for enhanced connectivity and integration from Gwadar to Kashgar, besides providing a road link with Tajikistan through Murghab and other Central Asian states. He offered Tajikistan to use Pakistani sea ports for imports and exports that provide the shortest route to sea.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan attaches great importance to security cooperation with Tajikistan, and proposed sharing of experiences on counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, controlling human trafficking and border control practices.

President Emomali Rahmon welcomed the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will also facilitate connectivity between Pakistan and Tajikistan and other Central Asian States.

He acknowledged Pakistan's support to the request by Tajikistan to accede to the Quadrilateral Agreement on Traffic in Transit among China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. 

The delegation-level meeting was attended by Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Muhamamd Asif, PM's Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Secretary Water and Power Younus Dhaga and Pakistan's ambassador to Tajikistan Tariq Iqbal Soomro.

Earlier, President Rahmon received Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his arrival at the Presidential Palace. The two leaders warmly shook hands and greeted each other.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was accorded a red-carpet welcome as he arrived in the Tajik capital on a two-day official visit Wednesday.

Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda received Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his delegation at the Dushanbe Airport. Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif and PM's Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi accompanied the Prime Minister.

A red carpet was rolled out for the Prime Minister. Two children presented bouquets to him and a contingent of static guards presented him salute. Several arrays of children attired in colourful traditional dresses lined up at the airport to greet the visiting dignitary.

Pakistan's ambassador to Tajikistan Tariq Soomro, Tajik Ambassador Jononov Sherali and senior government officials were also present.

The Prime Minister will attend the launching ceremony of the Central Asia-South Asia 1000 (CASA-1000) project on Thursday.

The CASA-1000 project will import electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan via Afghanistan and is aimed at helping Pakistan get cheaper and clean energy to minimise its electricity shortage.

The agreements on CASA-1000 have already been signed to implement the project and the process of laying the transmission line is underway.

Tajikistan is the world's third largest producer of hydroelectric power after the United States and Russia. Hydroelectric generation accounts for 76 percent of the total energy output of the country.

The initial plan is to transmit power in the range of 1,000 to 1,300MW from the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The major share of the exported energy will be consumed by Pakistan while approximately 300MW will be used by Afghanistan.