Untapping ECO potential

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NATIONAL Assembly hosted the 2nd General Conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) which discussed the prospects of enhancing cooperation amongst its member countries in diverse fields.

The event that brought together speakers and parliamentarians from the regional countries indeed provided an opportunity to discuss the way forward to tap the potential of ECO which, in fact, has a unique geo-strategic location, linking the East and the West.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, President Arif Alvi very rightly emphasized the need for forging a greater partnership amongst the member countries to address the problems faced by the region and cultivate the fruits of development.

There is no denying that this region with its significant economic power, vast natural resources and dynamic work force, has a huge development potential which need exploration in the better interest of all member nations.

ECO region is a biggest Muslim region with the population of over 500 million that shares six per cent approximately in world population.

The ECO region comprises ten member states such as Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The objective of creation of ECO region was to promote economic, technical and cultural cooperation.

Indeed the engagements amongst the regional countries including through forums such as the General Conference of the Parliamentary Assembly are important to explore ways and means to remove barriers in their trade and economic cooperation.

No economy can survive in isolation and we have to be integrated in such a way that best suits our national interests.

There is dire need to promote connectivity within the region through the development of state-of-the-art road infrastructure and railways.

This will not only promote people-to-people contacts but also facilitate the transportation of goods.

The ECO region can benefit a lot from the Chinese initiative of One Belt and One Road since it is the very land on which the ancient silk route is being reincarnated.

The ECO countries should also simplify the visa procedures so that peoples and entrepreneurs can easily move within the region.

There is a need of early completion of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI), CASA 1000 and other projects. These projects will greatly help in achieving the objective of integrating the region.