Zardari invites Russia to invest in Pakistan’s trans-regional projects

MOSCOW: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said that Russia can invest in regional and trans-regional projects while benefitting from  Pakistan’s strategic location and investment friendly policies.Speaking at Skolkovo Moscow School of Management here, he said both Pakistan and Russia share the common objectives of peace and development and therefore it will be natural for the two countries to cooperate for these goals.President Zardari said, “Our two countries need to expand and diversify their economic cooperation by engaging the corporate sectors. People to people contacts have their own dynamics to promote relations between countries.”The President said involving private entrepreneurs of the two countries is the key to enhancing cooperation. He said that trade and investment are the key in today’s international relations and Russia should take benefits from the investment friendly policies of the government.

President Zardari sought Russian cooperation in developing and exploiting energy resources in Pakistan since it has special expertise in mining and heavy industries. He said Pakistan is facing energy shortage and Russia can facilitate the proposed CASA 1000 and TAPI projects.He said all countries in the current era are moving forward, creating new alliances and partnerships for their economic benefits.  Referring to the availability of skilled manpower in Pakistan, the President said Russia can take advantage of it by exporting “our young and skilled labour”.Referring to the first official visit to Russia by any President of Pakistan in more than 30 years, President Zardari said “for too long our two peoples had been kept at some distance.”He said bilateral relations between Pakistan and the then Soviet Union during the Cold War period were not warm. “But the Cold War is now long over. The world has changed and it is changing fast.  And so are our two countries”.He said that Pakistan and Russia should leave the past behind and take advantage of the abundant opportunities. We should not and cannot remain frozen in time.”

He said, “We have therefore decided to turn a new page in Pakistan-Russia relations. My visit is driven by this decision.” He said there are great opportunities which could be explored in diverse fields, including energy, infrastructure development, science and technology and agriculture. Both countries can mutually benefit from cooperation in these areas, he noted.“We plan to establish Information Technology Campuses in over 100 districts in Pakistan. This is an area where your school can collaborate to mutual benefit.”The President asked the Skolkove management and BOI to sign an MoU on exchange of students and academia to take benefits from each other experiences particularly from the academia of the prestigious school.The President also urged for expanding air links by the respective airlines of the two countries to promote people to people contacts.He said Pakistan is passing through a phase of militancy and extremism but it has a strong resolve to fight terrorism “The pain inflicted on us by militancy has not weakened our resolve to fight it.  We will fight militancy to the finish, no matter what the cost.  Russia, too, is facing terrorism,” he said.Calling Pakistan and Russia natural partners in the fight against terrorism, President Zardari said, “We can learn from each other’s experiences and join hands to promote peace and stability in our region.”

He stressed the need for cooperating in fight against drug-trafficking and other organized crimes.  Pakistan and Russia have every reason to get closer together in the interest of people of the region, he said adding, “We need to engage our two peoples belonging to all walks of life to build a strong Pakistan-Russia relationship.”He said relationship of Pakistan and Russia is important for peace and development of the whole region and beyond. “I am confident that together we will contribute towards this relationship.”He said Moscow School of Management is a symbol of Russia’s drive for modernization under its dynamic leadership.This School has made great contribution to bringing stability to the global financial and economic order, he added.Later, the Chairman Board of Investment Salim  H Mandviwala and the Head of Russian National Investment Agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their respective governments to promote and increase investment in each other’s countries. – APP