Connectivity, economy key pillars of foreign policy: Nawaz

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Pak joins Ashgabat pact, Lapis Lazuli Corridor

Ashgabat—Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that regional connectivity and economic integration are the key pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Addressing the two-day Global Sustainable Transport Conference here on Saturday, he said in the emerging global and regional environment Pakistan is happy to play its role as gateway to Central Asia.
The Prime Minister said peaceful neighbourhood has remained the norm of Pakistan‘s foreign policy and no development policies can yield fruit without peace and security.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan is fully committed to its responsibilities as a partner in regional and economic integration. He said with projects like CPEC and One Belt One Road Pakistan has enhanced its geo strategic location into a geo Economic advantage.
He said CPEC is a package of multiple infrastructure and development projects and will boost connectivity within the region and integrate China, Central Asia, South Asia and Middle East.
He said 21st century is the century of connectivity and without adequate internal and regional communication networks countries will lag behind in progress.
Prime Minister said with mutual understanding and collective endeavours we will be able to deliver on the promise of peace, prosperity and development of our peoples.
Nawaz Sharif also announced Pakistan’s decision to join the Ashgabat Agreement and the Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
The Ashgabat agreement is a transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and seeks to create an international transport and transit corridor. The objective of the agreement is to facilitate the transport of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor seeks to foster transit and trade cooperation between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey by reducing barriers facing transit trade.
It intends to develop a Custom Procedure Integration in the region. “I would like to take this historic opportunity to announce our agreement in principle to join the Ashgabat Agreement as well as the Lapis Lazuli Corridor.”
“I am positive (the Ashgabat Agreement) will be beneficial not only to Pakistan but also to the entire Central Asian and South Asian region and beyond.”
The premier said “peaceful neighbourhood is a key pillar of (Pakistan’s) policy”, adding that without regional peace and stability “we will not be able to reap the benefits of regional connectivity and integration”. “Through integration of economies, markets and, more importantly cultures, which provide the doorway for peaceful co-existence, I have asked my relevant government ministers to approach the depository countries for an early start of negotiations in this behalf.”
Referring to China’s one-belt one-road initiative as a “game-changer”, the PM said: “It aims to create the world’s largest platform to integrate development of various regions in the Eurasian land mass.”
He said the most promising element of this initiative is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. He hoped that the agreement will prove milestone in achieving the dream of peaceful co-existence through integration of economies, markets and cultures in South Asia, Central Asia and beyond.
Addressing the conference, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said modern transport is helpful in stabilizing global relations at regional and national levels. He said Turkmenistan is pursuing effective policy for developing the transport system and has presented two drafts in the General Assembly.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his address said modern transportation is imperative for bolstering international relations and overall progress of the global community.