Gilani arrives in Astana on two-day visit

Kazakhstan: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani arrived here Tuesday on a two-day official visit to hold talks with the Kazakh leadership on diverse issues particularly trade and energy.The Prime Minister was received at the Astana International Airport by Kairat Sarybai, Deputy Foreign Minister and Co-chairman of Pak-Kazakh Commission Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Muhammad Akhtar Tufail and Kazakh Ambassador in Pakistan Bakhitbek Shabarbaev were also present.The Prime Minister was given a salute by a smartly turned out contingent of Kazakh armed forces as he alighted from his aircraft.

Two youngsters clad in traditional outfits presented bouquets to the visiting dignitary. The Prime Minister’s entourage included Governor of Punjab Latif Khosa, Minister for Production Anwar Ali Cheema, member of the National Assembly Qamar Zaman Kaira,  Senator Ghulam Ali and Faisal Ahmad, a businessman.Prime Minister Gilani is visiting Kazakhstan for the first time on the invitation of his counterpart Karim Massimov.

This is also the first bilateral visit by a Pakistani leader to Kazakhstan after Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto visited this Central Asian state in 1995.Ambassador Akhtar Tufail told APP that the Prime Minister’s visit was significant in resuming relations with Kazakhstan after 16 years on bilateral basis. However, the two countries have been supporting each other at international fora, including SCO and OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries), he said.

He said the talks between Pakistani and Kazakh leadership would focus on trade, energy, science and technology, terrorism and intelligence sharing. He said the two sides would also discuss the importance of regional stability with specific reference to Afghan peace.He mentioned the recent interest shown by Kazakh government to join the TAPI – the proposed gas line between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.He said that the landlocked Kazakhstan was also interested in exploring the potential of Gwadar seaport, that offered it the shortest route to the Arabian Sea.Ambassador Tufail said that the Prime Minister’s visit was part of Pakistan’s policy of regional outreach and strengthening relations with all its important neighbours, including the Central Asian states.

He said that the Prime Minister would also witness the signing of an agreement between Pakistan and Kazakhstan’s chambers of commerce and industries.During his stay, Prime Minister Gilani will hold talks with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov and President Nursultan Nazarbayev to seek potential in areas of trade and commerce.Pakistan wants to expand relations with the Central Asian state, which is rich in natural resources.

Gilani will also hold a joint interaction with media along with Prime Minister Massimov besides giving interviews to the leading Kazakh dailies.The Prime Minister will visit the Monument of the Motherland Defenders and will also lay a wreath at the Eternal Flame.Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari visited Kazakhstan this June to attend the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). – APP