Visa regime with Turkmenistan to be relaxed ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkmenistan pledged on Wednesday to relax visa regime between the two countries to enhance bilateral cooperation in different fields, including economy, trade, inter-parliamentary relations and culture.
The two sides reaffirmed their resolve for timely completion of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project by 2019. It is believed to be a flagship project aimed at achieving regional energy security and prosperity.
The two sides made these commitments during a two-day visit of Chairperson of Mejlis (parliament) of Turkmenistan Akja Nurberdiyeva to Pakistan.
She spent a busy day here on Wednesday when she met President Mamnoon Hussain in Presidency, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in PM House and National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in Parliament House.
“The two sides need to facilitate business visas and relax visa regime for promotion of economic relations,” said President Hussain during his meeting with Mrs Nurberdiyeva.
He said Pakistan greatly valued friendly and cooperative relations with Turkmenistan which had deep roots in common faith, cultural affinities and shared traditions.
He emphasised the need for close collaboration between parliamentarians, parliamentary committees and parliamentary friendship groups of the two countries and called for regular exchange of cultural and trade delegations to increase people-to- people contact and promote understanding between the people of the two countries.
The president expressed dissatisfaction over the volume of bilateral trade and said, “Bilateral trade… is far below the potential and needs to be enhanced. Therefore the two sides should start flights between the two countries to facilitate businesspersons, tourists and people-to-people contact.”
He said Pakistan was committed to timely completion of the TAPI project and welcomed Turkmenistan’s offer for export of 1000MW of electricity to Pakistan.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project also came under discussion as the president said the completion of CPEC and TAPI projects would usher in prosperity in the entire region because with regional connectivity neighbouring countries would fully benefit from the emerging opportunities.
During a meeting with a Turkmen delegation led by Ms Nurberdiyeva, Mr Sharif said frequent exchanges of parliamentary delegations would prove to be beneficial for strengthening democracy in the two brotherly countries.
“Pakistan and Turkmenistan enjoy friendly relations, but there are huge opportunities to further expand the scope of our bilateral relationship, particularly enhancing economic ties,” he said.
The prime minister underlined the need for early completion of the TAPI gas pipeline project and said it would advance shared goals of energy security and regional prosperity. The project would help Pakistan meet its gas requirements and integrate the region economically and politically, he added.
He conveyed congratulations to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow and people of Turkmenistan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the country’s independence.
Ayaz Sadiq told his Turkmen counterpart that Pakistan was set to open a new chapter in vibrant inter-parliamentary relations between the two countries.
He said cooperation at different multilateral and bilateral forums was imperative for achieving shared objectives of regional and global peace.
Referring to several meetings between Prime Minister Sharif and the Turkmen president over the last 14 months, he said top leadership of the countries was determined to forge deeper cooperation.
During the meeting, Ms Nurberdiyeva said her country was keen to forge stronger ties with Pakistan to the benefit of the two countries.
“Turkmenistan is working on laying an electricity line all along the TAPI gas pipeline for providing electricity to regional countries,” she said.
She said Turkmenistan-Pakistan bilateral cooperation would unleash a new wave of connectivity in the region.
“Turkmenistan considers its partnership with Pakistan highly essential for promoting peace in the region,” she added.
Ms Nurberdiyeva endorsed Mr Sadiq’s proposal for expanding people-to-people contact and exchange of parliamentary delegations.
She thanked the prime minister for extending warm welcome to the visiting Turkmen delegation in Pakistan.
She conveyed sincere wishes and congratulations of President Berdimuhamedow on Mr Sharif’s successful heart surgery.
Tachmuhammet Gulamuhmmededov, Turkmenistan’s Deputy Minister of Energy, said the TAPI project would be completed and made operational by Dec 2019. He said 15km pipeline had already been laid and geological and technical work was currently under way on another 80km pipeline.
The Turkmen delegation visited the solar power plant installed on the premises of Parliament House to meet its energy requirements.