URUMQI, Sept 1 (APP): Terming enhanced rail, road and air connectivity as key to regional development, President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said Pakistan sees great potential in the Eurasian corridor and fully supports its revival. “Pakistan is for enhanced rail, road and air connectivity in the region as it is the key to regional development,” President Zardari said while addressing the China-Eurasia Economic Development and Cooperation Forum soon after the opening ceremony of first China-Eurasia Expo here in the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from September 1 to 5.
The President who reached Urumqi on Tuesday to attend the mega event said the Chinese government by hosting the China-Eurasia Expo has built economic bridges between Europe and Asia, the East and the West. “This is a timely and laudable initiative,” he remarked.
Foreign Minister Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr. Asim Hussain, Information Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Chairman Board of Investment Salim H. Mandviwala, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan and Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar attended the event.
President Zardari’s both daughters Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari were also present on the occasion.
“The need for a forum that brings China and Eurasia together has never been greater. We see great potential in the Eurasian corridor and fully support its revival,” said President Zardari who has a special vision on regional connectivity and often talks about regional development and prosperity through enhanced rail, road and air links.
Tracing the history of centuries old Silk route that passed through this region and was a link between East and West, President Zardari said the China-Eurasia Expo’s venue carries great significance.
“The earliest exchanges between the East and the West took place through the historic Silk Road that passed through this region,” he said adding it was a conduit for the exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as goods and merchandise between Pakistan and China.
The President said since Xinjiang was in close proximity to Pakistan, the Chinese monks and envoys, as far back as the fifth century, travelled to what today are known as Chitral, Swat, Peshawar and Taxila in Pakistan.
He said Xinjiang is connected with Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region through the Karakoram Highway as well as other modes of communication, adding, soon, a railway link between the two sides would shorten distance between the two regions.
The President said development of the western parts of China including Xinjiang is truly remarkable and Pakistan views Xinjiang’s development and prosperity as its own.
He said China’s policy of developing Xinjiang offered tremendous opportunities for economic collaboration between our two regions, adding, Pakistan and China are already working towards an “integrated border management” to promote trade ties between our two countries.
President Zardari said Pakistan was keen to participate in the Kashgar Special Economic Zone.
He said Pakistan and China were time-tested friends and the two countries enjoy a high degree of mutual trust and confidence.
“We have a history of fruitful cooperation in a wide range of areas of mutual interest,” the President said and mentioned with pride and pleasure that this year the two countries were celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
President Zardari said it was a matter of great satisfaction to see Pak-China friendship flourishing in all its dimensions.
China’s economic progress was a source of inspiration for many countries including Pakistan, he said and added that without China’s economic strength the world’s economy would have been in a deeper crisis in the post-recession era.
Talking about terrorism, the President said this menace has spread all over, with Pakistan hit hard. “We have suffered greatly on this count”, he remarked.
“The recent incidents of terrorism in Xinjiang dismayed us,” President Zardari said, adding, Pakistan would extend all possible cooperation to China in overcoming this menace.
President Zardari expressed his conviction that terrorism will not discourage the march towards development and prosperity.
He also expressed his confidence that the China-Eurasia Expo will be a milestone in promoting development in the region and beyond.
“I wish our Chinese friends and the participants of the Expo all success,” the President added.
China’s Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang in his key-note address said the launching of China-Eurasia Expo as well as the Economic Development and Cooperation Forum was aimed at achieving a win-win situation for Asia and Europe through increased trade and economic exchanges between the East and West.
He said the historic Asian Silk Road has remained a source of prosperity in the region, which due to its diversity has large potential of development, adding. China is working hard to strengthen the links between Asia and Europe through enhanced connectivity and infrastructure development.
Vice Premier Li referred to the sustained economic growth achieved by China over the years despite the world economic recession and said China was working hard to make it the world’s largest market.
He said China was focusing on the development of its Western parts including the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which due to its geographic proximity and importance can serve as a new Eurasia bridge and trade corridor between Asia and Europe regions.
President of Kyrgyzstan Ms. Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Abid Sharifov, Vice Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Aset O. Issekeshev, and former Prime Minister of Hungary Peter Medgyessy also addressed the forum and highlighted the importance of enhanced regional cooperation and links between the East and West to achieve progress and prosperity in Asia and beyond.
Earlier President Zardari joined China’s Executive Vice President and other dignitaries at the impressive opening ceremony of the first China-Eurasia Expo at the newly constructed magnificent Expo Center building.
The President later visited the Pakistan Pavilion at the Expo and evinced keen interest in various traditional Pakistani products such as artificial jewellery and carpets displayed at the pavilion.
Members of the President’s delegation as well as Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also appreciated the products put on display. -ftpapp.app