Pakistan taking care of three million Afghan refugees for decades: Imran Khan

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TASHKENT: PM Khan met Josep Borrell, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, and discussed the Afghan conflict.

Tweeting about the meeting, Mr Borrell said: “Opportunity to meet with Prime Minister of Pakistan@ImranKhanPTI in the margins of the Tashkent #Connectivity Conference. Discussed security challenges and impact of instability on the region. A peacefully negotiated settlement in Afghanistan is the only way forward.”

While highlighting Pakistan’s vital contributions to the Afghan peace process and intra-Afghan negotiations, Mr Khan said Pakistan had been taking care of three million Afghan refugees for decades due to the conflict and expressed the apprehension that more refugees could to come due to war in Afghanistan.

“We are petrified that there will be another influx of refugees and we do not have the capacity or the economic strength to bear it. So I can assure you again, if any country is trying its best, it is Pakistan,” he added.

Mr Khan said the conflict could only be settled through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process leading to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement.

The prime minister highlighted the significance of continued engagement of international community to facilitate lasting peace in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Nato forces.

Imran Khan said at the Pak-Uzbek Business Forum that Pakistan’s connectivity with Uzbekistan in trade and bilateral spheres would open up new avenues of prosperity in the region.

“Pakistan has immense potential to connect Central Asia with rest of the world and become a hub of trade,” he said in his address at the Uzbekistan-Pakistan Business Forum, held here in the Uzbek capital.

Pak-Uzbek Business Forum was attended by around 130 representatives of leading companies and business houses from Pakistan and the activity resulted in signing of agreements is said to be worth $453 million.

PM Khan said: “I want to assure the business community of Uzbekistan that this relationship is just the beginning of the journey of development and prosperity.” He was of the opinion that the railways project among Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan would prove to be a revolutionary development.

“Pakistan is keen for peace in Afghanistan and considers it vital for trade connectivity among the regional countries,” he said, adding that such trade linkages helped in raising the living standards of the citizens.

He hoped that with the support and will of the regional states, the situation in Afghanistan would lead to improvement.

Mr Khan said Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoyed relations rooted in common faith, culture and history and offered a unique dimension to the two nations to explore each other in diverse areas.

In his speech, Uzbekistan PM Abdulla Aripov mentioned the strong ties between Pakistan and Uzbekistan in multiple areas of cooperation.

He welcomed Mr Khan on his official visit that he said would usher in a new area of cooperation and joint ventures between the two brotherly countries.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said two important objectives of the premier’s visit were to deliberate upon ways to ensure peace in Afghanistan and to ensure travel facilities among the three countries. He explained that Pakistan desired an effective trade linkage up to Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states.

“We want an effective transportation infrastructure so that the goods loaded from Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar seaports could reach Uzbekistan’s Tashkent,” he said in a video message from the Uzbek capital.

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