BEIJING, Nov 10 (APP): Pakistan is the vital lynchpin that connects South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and Western China. It provides the shortest access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea for Central Asia as well as Western China. In our view enhancing connectivity is absolutely vital if SCO is to push forward a trans-regional development agenda,? said Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khan while addressing the transport ministers forum of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) here Tuesday.
Ambassador Khan pointed out that Pakistan?s geographical location and our plans to develop trans-regional connections are in-step with SCO??s efforts to create trans-continental overland connectivity.
?We would be happy to provide trade and transit corridors through our highways and ports to connect Central Asia with South Asia. Pakistan also provides a natural link between the SCO states to connect the Eurasian heartland with the Arabian Sea? he noted.
To improve connectivity within Pakistan, Ambassador Khan said that we are building a North South Trade and Energy Corridor.
This corridor of Roads, Railways and Energy pipelines along with manufacturing bases will not only be an instrument for Pakistan?s development; it will also linkup other members of the SCO.
Pakistan and China have already started work on the up-gradation of the Karakorum Highway (KKH), which connects the western region of China with the north of Pakistan and further with the deep-sea ports of Karachi, Gwadar and Bin Qasim.
Work on a feasibility study to build a Rail Link between Pakistan and China has started. We are exploring a rail link between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.
Necessary steps, Khan said are being taken to start work on the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. As this pipeline is developed it can be extended to other members and observers of SCO. Similarly, we remain keen to develop the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan gas pipeline.
Afghanistan already has a transit trade treaty with Pakistan. A Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit between China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Pakistan is operational since 2004, Khan said adding that in the future, as the infrastructure develops further, other SCO members can join this arrangement to access to the Arabian Sea.
Acknowledging the fact that SCO has made a single contribution to the reopening and strengthening the trans-Eurasian land routes that were dormant in the 20th century, Ambassador Masood Khan said that the region-wide overland trade is becoming an engine for economic development.
?We believe that the reopening of these routes will help the development of a Eurasian land-bridge to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific by overland rail, road and energy networks? he noted.
He informed that the SCO is a powerful vehicle for realizing this vision, for creating a harmonious region and for striving sustained development.
Expressing gratitude to the Chinese Ministry of Transport for hosting the meeting with theme ?Pushing Forward Connectivity, Realizing Transport Facilitation?, Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan is an observer of the SCO but we feel as if we are a part of this family.
?This should be so because we fully subscribe to the SCO??s aspirations and actions for greater security and durable peace in the region? he informed the distinguished participants of the meeting including Minister Li Shenglin and Deputy Secretary General.
Ambassador Khan suggested that to increase trade and economic cooperation, Customs, Immigration and other border services of the regional countries should have greater cooperation among themselves with the ultimate objective of having Integrated Border Management where all the border services are provided under one roof.
Referring to the recently concluded SCO heads of government meeting held in Beijing last month in which Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani also participated, Ambassador Khan said that it decided ?to take the necessary measures for more effective use of the existing transit potential of the SCO member states.