Tashkent conference highlights need for enhanced regional cooperation

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President Shavkat emerges as global statesman, urges CA&SA nations to exploit untapped potential

Zubair Qureshi
Tashkent

Two-day international Central Asia & South Asia (CA&SA) conference held in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent earlier this month (July 15-16, 2021) proved to be a springboard for huge economic, so-cial, cultural and development activities in the re-gion.

Heads of the states, governments, ministers and delegates from around 60 countries participated in the two-day event and remained engaged in intense discussions, debates and deliberations as how could the Central Asian and the South Asian nations rely on their own potential instead of looking towards the West or in any other direction in search for the prosperity of their people.

The highlight of the conference was, however, the address by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in which he rolled out an ambitious plan for greater economic connectivity.

While referring to the an-cient times when Tashkent and Samarkand used to be the central points along the Silk Road and traders from all over the world arrived here for business and trade, Shavkat Mirziyeyov said it was the time to take one step forward by connecting the Central Asia with the South Asia through road and railways so that the spirit of Silk Road could revive.

Besides its Silk Road reference, Uzbekistan has much more to offer to the external world and during the brief stay, visits and meetings in the sidelines of the international conference it was revealed that the country was undergoing a complete overhaul in almost all departments and fields of life.

First Deputy Minister for Tourism & Sports, Ulug-bek Azamov, at a Meet the Press before the confer-ence drew the media persons’ attention towards reforms in the tourism sector.

“Uzbekistan is rich in top world tourism sights, cultural and historical monuments, some of which are on the UNESCO’s list,” said Ulugbek Azamov adding the country’s cultural heritage includes an-cient treasures of the Greek, the Arab, the Chinese and the Mongol cultures.

Besides, our easy online visa policy and infrastruc-ture provided at all tourism points offer excellent opportunities to the tourists to visit this country at any time of the year.

Though the tourism sector was affected by COVID-19 in the last two years, in 2019, Uzbekistan re-ceived 6.7 million tourists, in 2020, 2 million tour-ists visited the country while, in 2021 the number is expected to be over 8 million.

The big chunk of tourism however belongs to ‘Ziarah Tourism’ or ‘Religious Tourism,’ he said.

The Tomb of Imam Bukhari (Bukhara), Mausoleum of Amir Temur (Samarkand), Amir Temur Museum (Tashkent) are some of the points frequented by tourists throughout the year besides, several small and big sites and buildings also attract the Muslims and followers of other religions to come and visit Uzbekistan.

Another factor besides museums and mausoleums that contributes immensely to Uzbekistan tourism is the country’s ‘gastronomy.’

Uzbekistan’s chefs are simply among the best cooks and the country’s fresh fruit, cakes, mutton and beef cuisine and above all traditional rice pulao, kebab and naan (a variety of them are available in all nooks and corners of the country) are some of the blessings that one can en-joy only in this peaceful country of the beautiful people.

Once you start eating, it is almost impossi-ble to hold your hand as Uzbek food and aroma cast spell on you.

Additionally, one can also enjoy a ride on the Af-rosiyob Train, which runs at an amazing speed of around 200-km per hour and takes you from Tash-kent to Samarkand in only two hours.

Afrosiyob is indeed an example of Uzbekistan’s success in train technology and that is why Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address at the Tashkent conference emphasized regional connectivity among Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan through rail.

If our cities Tashkent, Mazar-e-Sharif and Peshawar are connected it will give a huge boost to business and trade and will result in economic prosperity for the people of the three countries, had said Imran Khan in his address.

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