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PR No. 118


Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Bilateral talks were held in cordial atmosphere between Pakistan and Afghanistan at PMs House here today where the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Afghan President, Mr. Hamid Karzai led their delegations.

Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen mutual cooperation to overcome the common challenges of terrorism and extremism and expressed their resolve to work for the stability and peace of both the countries.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan supported any pace process in Afghanistan which was Afghan led and Afghan owned because peace, prosperity and independence of  Afghanistan was in the best national interest of Pakistan.

Both sides reviewed the current developments in and around the region relating to peace and stability. They also discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of trade and commerce, infrastructure development, regional transit trade and cross border movement.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan would continue to extend full cooperation to Afghan Government in the investigation of the assassination of Professor Buhanuddin Rabbani.

The Afghan President expressed his deep sense of gratitude to the government of Pakistan for the assistance in the investigation of assassination of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani

The Afghan President apprised the several initiatives which were currently underway to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Afghan President termed Pakistans support as critical to the success of Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process and the reconciliation in the country.

The Afghan President during the talks said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were twin brothers and therefore should cooperate in the same spirit for the cause of peace and stability in both countries.

The Pakistan delegation included, Minister for Commerce, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Defence, Ch. Ahmed Mukhtar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Interior, Mr. Rehman Malik, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Advisor on Finance, Dr. Abul Hafiz Sheikh, Advisor on Petroleum, Dr. Asim Hussain, Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, DG ISI, Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Senior Government officials.

The Afghan delegation included, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Advisor, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Jawed Ludin, Ambassador of Afghnistan to Pakistan, Muhammad Umar Daudzai and other senior Afghan Government officials.

Earlier, the Afghan President, Mr. Hamid Karzai was received by the Prime Minister on his arrival at the PMs House.

Both the leaders had one on one meeting prior to the bilateral talks.

PR No. 119


Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Indian Business delegation led by Mr. R.B.Mittal, called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at Prime Ministers House this morning and expressed their resolve to build trade relations between two countries on durable basis.

The Prime Minister said that there was an enabling environment prevailing between two countries to promote trade, people to people contact and also exchange of high level visits of Parliamentarians to espouse the cause of meaningful and productive contacts.

The Prime Minister recalled his meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh at Mohali when he had the opportunity to meet the Indian political leadership including Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, President Indian National Congress.

The Prime Minister said that Indian Prime Minister was a sincere leader who was committed to normalize relations between India and Pakistan. He maintained that he was looking forward to visit of Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan.

The Prime Minister said that his meeting with Indian parliamentarian delegation in the recent past was a step in right direction so far as people to people contact was concerned. He added that he is looking forward to the visit of Lok Sabha speaker to Pakistan.

The Prime Minister asked the leader of delegation to convey his best wishes to India Prime Minister.

The members of Indian delegation expressed their deep sense of gratitude over the hospitality of business community in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. They maintained that there was an environment and momentum to enhance trade between two countries and leave a worthwhile legacy for coming generations.

The Indian delegation urged upon setting up of a business forum of Pakistan and India to facilitate business activities on efficient and meaningful grounds.

Other members of delegation include Mr. Harshpati Singhania , Mr. Muthuraman ,Mr. Sudhir jalan, Mr. Naresh Goeal and Mr. Sunial Kant Munjal.

PR No. 120

Ministry of Professional & Technical Training is given this assignment

Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Progress requires technology and technology requires qualified manpower. Persisting brain drain continues to deprive the country of expertise and skills of the most talented men and women who have chosen to settle abroad. The existence abroad of a large number of Pakistani professionals has been a source of grave concern to the Government, as it constitutes a serious drain on the manpower resources available for development in Pakistan.

Under his enlightened vision, the honourable President of Pakistan launched in the year 2009 a programme titled Presidents Programme for Care of Highly Qualified Overseas Pakistanis (PPQP) to facilitate high level Pakistani professionals abroad for their placement in Pakistan through short to long term technical assistance to avail benefits of their expertise for specific inputs in their areas of specialization and to address the ill effects of brain drain and prevalent worldwide recession by facilitating Highly Qualified Overseas Pakistanis access to job opportunities in Pakistan and internationally.

The National Talent Pool, an organization of Ministry of Professional and Technical Training is implementing the said Programme under PSDP to avail benefits of their expertise for specific inputs in their areas of specialization, for public and private sector within the country.

Through the programme, outstanding specialists of Pakistani origin positioned abroad visits in various educational, professional and technological institutions, production units, private enterprises to render short term consultancy services ranging two to thirty six weeks with a view  to supplement local knowledge with addition of latest knowledge brought from developed world in priority sector programmes within the country and impart as much of their knowledge as they can to their colleagues in Pakistan. This would be helpful in tapping the know how of distinguished Pakistani professionals abroad for their assistance in the national development.

The programme provides an excellent opportunity to expatriate professionals to participate in nation building activities, and make contribution in the form of specialized lectures, seminars, workshops/ symposia and training courses including setting up new laboratories, and initiate new research and development programmes, in the country. The salient features of the programme are highlighted on this office webportal at

This Ministry invites proposals from Federal Ministries/Divisions, Provincial Government Departments, all universities, institutions, seats of higher learning, professional colleges, scientific and technological institutions, production units, private enterprises hospitals,  NGOs of public / private sector in all fields to identify their technical requirements/ sectoral needs for the services of expatriate Pakistani professionals on prescribed Technical Requirement (TR) proforma which can be filled either on-line or be retrieved from the identified webportal and forwarded to National Talent Pool at P.O. Box 1095, Plot 39, H-9, or PPQP Office, PMI Auditorium Building, Near Zero Point, Islamabad.-19, Is The institutions may identify name/s and addresse/s of highly qualified expatriate Pakistani professionals who are known to them and could participate under the above Programme.

The information may be disseminate to community at home and abroad including their friends / colleagues particularly highly qualified overseas Pakistanis who are working abroad and possessing highly international reputed expertise.

PR No. 121

Malaysian Firm to Construct
Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9)

Islamabad: February 16, 2012

A five-member Malaysian delegation led by Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Malaysia for South Asia on Infrastructure Dato Seri Samy Vellu called on Minister of State/Chairman Board of Investment, Saleem H. Mandviwalla to explore business and investment opportunities in the country. The High Commissioner Malaysia, H.E. Dato Ahmed Anwar Adnan also accompanied the delegation. The delegation is visiting Pakistan on special request of MOS/Chairman BOI during the Pak-Malaysia Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Dato Seri Samy Vellu informed BOI that a Malaysian construction firm Bina Puri Holdings Bhd had received a letter of intent in November from the Pakistani National Highway Authority (NHA) for the expansion of the four-lane Karachi-Hyderabad highway. The same company is also involved in residential and industrial projects in Lahore.

The proposed M-9 motorway will cost an estimated Rs18.2 billion. M-9 will be one of the busiest highway in Pakistan, with 23,000 vehicles appx every day.

Minister of State/Chairman BOI said that Pakistan has large infrastructure needs in the form of roads and highways, gas, oil pipelines and terminals, port development, shipping, airports, aviation, railways, logistics management, energy and power. There is also unsatisfied and ever expanding demand for office space, apartments, shopping malls and recreational facilities.

He further added that Malaysia has an impressive record of expertise, experience in construction, infrastructure and real estate sectors. Joint ventures, Private Public partnerships between Malaysian and Pakistani Companies backed by liquidity available under Islamic finance are the way forward in which both countries would be able to go ahead of others.

After signing the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2008, the trade has crossed the $2.5Billion till now and exports to Malaysia have risen up to 56.16 per cent till November 2011. The investment remained very low in 2010-11 which is $ 5.5Million only.

The delegation also showed interest in the New Islamabad International Airport, in Fateh Jang. Malaysian Multimedia Development Corporation and the Pakistan Software Houses Association are also seeking strong partnership in the information and communication technology sector.

A number of key Malaysian companies including Tenaga National (power sector) Telekom Malaysia (IT sector) have invested in the telecom, infrastructure, construction, housing, and land development projects. The Malaysian national company, PETRONAS, is also involved in exploration and drilling of gas and oil.

Dato Seri Samy Vellu assured the MOS/Chairman BOI to visit Pakistan again with more investors and companies for the investment in the sectors of interests.

PR No. 122

Presidents meeting with Afghan President
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday reiterated commitment  to work together with Afghan President Karzai for further enhancing bilateral interaction and evolving an institutional approach to deal with the common challenges facing the two countries and underline the need for the two countries to stay together at this critical juncture and avoid being distracted by momentary events.

Briefing the media, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that during a one-on-one meeting followed by delegation level interaction, the two Presidents discussed a range of issues including bilateral relations and the regional situation, situation in Afghanistan, developmental projects in the region, Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement , drug trafficking and border issues

The President said that the government was pursuing a consistent policy to strengthen Pak- Afghan bilateral relations in all sphere as Afghanistan was at the heart of the region with a pivotal role to play in regional economic development.

The President said that Pakistan has always desired a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan as it was in Pakistans own national interest and assured continued support to every effort aimed at restoring peace and stability. The President reiterated Pakistans principled stand of supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned political process of reconciliation and peace in the country.

The Spokesperson said that President Zardari said that multifaceted cooperation among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, being close neighbors, was essential to address the challenges and exploit opportunities in the region. He expressed the hope that the trilateral summit would be a significant step in promoting the agenda of regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Discussing trade ties with Afghanistan, the President said that connectivity through all available modes would help bolster the mutual trade activities and prompting people to people contacts. Issues related to Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement also came under discussion.

The two Presidents agreed upon the need to resolve all the issues and remove bottlenecks if any, in the way of Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement. President Zardari underlined the need for working together to extend Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement to the Central Asian countries , which , he said was a doable project and would not only benefit the people of the region but also generate huge economic activity in Afghanistan.  

He urged that the two sides should accord priority to all the energy related projects to meet growing energy needs and expedite process of development. The President also emphasized upon the early implementation of CASA-1000 project, TAPI and other infrastructure projects.

The spokesperson said that President Zardari said that Prof Rabbani was a friend of Pakistan and an honest and serious interlocutor and termed his assassination, the work of those elements who do not want peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The President assured that Pakistan will continue to extend full cooperation to Afghan governments investigation in the assassination of Professsor Rabbani and said that Pakistani team recently visited Kabul in this regard.

The delegation level meeting was attended among others by Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Commerce, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, defence Minister, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator A. Rehman Malik, Federal Minister for Interior, Dr. Asim Hussain, advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for  Water & Power, Mr. Salman Bashir, foreign Secretary, Mr. Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar and other senior officials.

Afghan President was assisted among others by Dr. Zalmai Rassoul, foreign minister, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, National Security Advisor, Mr. Jawed Ludin, Deputy foreign Minster, Mr. Abdul Karim Khurram, Chief of staff to the President, Mr. Muhmmad Umer Daudzai, Afghan ambassador in Pakistan, staff of the President and senior officials of Afghan foreign Ministry.

PR No. 123

Prime Ministers Polio Cell Takes Serious Notice of Fresh Polio Cases
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and PMs Focal Person on Polio Eradication has taken serious notice of the recent polio cases reported (one in Jhang and the other in District Hayderabad). She called upon Commissioner Hayderabad to inquire what lead to these fresh cases despite our untiring efforts to root out polio from the country. It is alarming that the child had received vaccine in all previous polio campaigns and even then he suffered from polio. She suspected that child was immunized even once and that health departments version was based on a false assumption that child was immunized. She seriously doubted health departments performance in recent immunization campaigns.

She also shown concern over a case reported in Jhang a few days back. She said that it was a big question mark on performance of district Jhangs administration as to why that child could not receive even a single dose of vaccine. There are chances that there could be more such children who failed t receive a single dose of vaccine. We spent billions on polio campaigns and all our efforts seem to be going to dogs.

Unlike far flung areas of Balochistan and FATA, Jhang is a very settled district in the heart of Punjab with every organ of state machinery. If a child of Jhang or Hayderabad fails to get vaccinated, what can you expect in remote districts of other provinces with nomadic populations?

Moreover, on recent wave of criticism by some TV channels and prominent politicians, she expressed feelings of intense grief that it might discourage people to get their children vaccinated against polio.

In reference to a recent talk show where a vaccinator and two young doctors made baseless assumptions about the efficacy of the vaccine, Shahnaz Wazir Ali asked the Chief Secretary Punjab to launch an exhaustive enquiry into the matter. She also requested the Chief Ministers of all four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan to take concrete measures to removes lacunas in polio eradications efforts. 

PR No. 124

Sixth Meeting of SAFTA Ministerial Council agrees to reduce their respective Sensitive Lists under SAFTA
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

The Sixth Meeting of SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) was held in Islamabad today (16th February, 2012). Commerce & Trade Ministers of SAARC member states participated in the meeting and held talks on matters related to enhancement of intra-SAARC Trade.

The Ministers emphasized that for facilitation of trade in the region, the member states should reduce their respective Sensitive Lists under SAFTA. It was noted that Member States are in the process of reducing their Sensitive Lists. The meeting agreed that the Sensitive Lists may be further reduced in the coming years.

The Ministers appreciated that the SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services has been signed by all the member states and work is being done on finalization of Schedule of Specific Commitments under the Agreement. They underscored the significance of services trade in the SAARC region. The leaders stressed that the schedule of specific commitments under the services agreement should be finalized and notified.

The meeting also discussed obstacle to trade due to the presence of NTM/PTMs and decided that list of Non-Tariff Measures / Para Tariff Measures already submitted by Member States should be re examined. It is agreed that a special meeting of the Committee of Experts (COE) will discuss the NTMs/PTM before forwarding it to the relevant organization to be resolved. The leaders also agreed on further relaxation of SAARC visa regime. They underlined the fact that without free movement of people across the border in the SAFTA region, trade would not flourish in the region.

On Trade Liberalization Programme (TLP) under SAFTA, the meeting discussed the matter of timely issuance of Customs notifications for implementation of TLP under SAFTA. The meeting emphasized that the Member States should issue their respective customs notifications at least for the year 2012. Realizing the importance of infrastructure in the SAARC region, the leaders emphasized the need for intra-regional connectivity through construction of road and rail and air networks.

PR No. 125
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Federal Minister for Science and Technology expressed these views while addressing the Ambassadors of COMSATS member States. The Federal Minister said that the present democratic government has made it, a matter of policy and trying hard to transfer the benefits of Science and Technology to the masses of Pakistan. He stressed  the role of organizations like COMSATS for achievement of these objectives our objectives.

We are fully aware of the fact that COMSATS member states have several common socio-economic problems and most of these problems cannot be solved unless we break the barriers of isolation in Science and Technology. That is why we feel that south-south cooperation is extremely important for all of us The Minister expressed.

He lauded the initiatives taken by COMSATS to launch international thematic Research Groups, whereby Technological resources by the interacted Research and Developments centers are pooled to undertake research on specific topics which are most relevant for Socio-economic development.

He emphasize the capacity building in Science and Technology as it is going to acquire increasing importance in the future. The minister said that they were witnessing the rise of south from the continents of Latin America, Africa, and Asia wherein Brazil, South Africa and China are attaining new heights in power and prosperity. They had achieved this through their consistant efforts for capacity building in Science & Technology and innovation skills.

The Federal Minister said that the Government of Pakistan has a strong resolve to support COMSATS vision and objectives and the Focal point in Pakistan is to extend all its help to COMSATS for promoting Commissions future activities.

It is pertinent to mention that the meeting was held in connection with forthcoming COMSATS Commission Meeting scheduled to be held on April 16-17, 2012 in Islamabad. This meeting will be participated by all the COMSATS Members states Ministers of the Science and Technology.

Earlier the Executive Director of COMSATS, Mr. I .E Qureshi briefed the dignitaries about the progress and development of the organization.

The Preparations for COMSATS Ministerial meeting are in progress under the Chairmanship of Federal Secretary for Science and Technology Mr. Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar. In this regard the Third Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee and Organizing Committee have taken place in the Ministry of Science and Technology. Federal Secretary of Science and Technology expressed satisfaction upon the progress made till date, however he stressed to increase coordination among the stake holders. 

PR No. 126
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

President Asif Ali Zardari has called for enhancing bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Iran for promoting peace, stability and economic progress of the peoples of the region in general and of the two countries in particular. He said this during meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Aiwan-e-Sadr today.

The two leaders reiterated firm resolve for boosting mutual coordination to face common challenges facing the two countries including countering terrorism, drugs and narcotics control and human trafficking.

Briefing the media, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that during a one-on-one meeting followed by delegation level talks on the sidelines of trilateral summit here at the Presidency, the two leaders held wide ranging discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues.

From Pakistan side, the delegation level meeting was attended among others by  Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, defence Minister, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator A. Rehman Malik, Federal Minister for Interior, Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din, Federal Minister for textile Industries, Dr. Asim Hussain, advisor to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Water & Power, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Federal Minister for Railways, Mr. Salman Bashir, foreign Secretary, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar , Mr. Khalid Aziz Babar, Pakistans ambassador to Iran and other senior officials.

Iranian Side included among others Mr. Ali Akbar Salehi, foreign minister, Mr. Asfandyar Mashaei, advisor & head of Presidents office, Mr. Hameed Baghaie, vice President, Mr. Lraghchi, Deputy Asia & pacific affairs, Mr. Alireza Haghighian, Iranian ambassador in Pakistan , Presidents staff and other senior officials of Iranian embassy .

The spokesperson said that the President recalled his previous four visits to Iran and said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its fraternal ties with Iran, deeply rooted in our historical, cultural and religious commonalities. The President welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and expressed hope that his visit to Pakistan on the occasion of trilateral Summit provided immense opportunity for the two countries to further bolster bilateral cooperation in diverse areas particularly trade, energy, security, communication and infrastructure.

The spokesperson said that rail and road links between the two countries, energy projects, the early realization of IP gas pipeline, and other projects of regional connectivity were also discussed during the meeting.

The President reiterated commitment for expeditious implementation of Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project ,1000 MW  electricity transmission line and 100 MW Gwadar power supply in order to meet the countrys growing demand for energy and power.

He said that enhancing bilateral cooperation particularly in energy and infrastructure would help the two countries to overcome the challenges in the way of realization of full existing potential of their relations and realize the goal of raising the bilateral trade to $ 5 billion target which he said was feasible.

The President proposed for considering encouraging barter and trading in local currencies between the two countries besides removing tariff and non tariff barriers.

The President said that Pakistan and Iran could trade in Wheat, Fertilizers, Cement and other commodities to the mutual benefit.

The Spokesperson said that the President emphasized on promoting interactions in education sector between the two countries and suggested that the old Persian literature should be translated into Pakistani languages so that our younger people learnt more about the cultural and historical linkages between the two countries.

The President thanked the Iranian government for the relief assistance for the rehabilitation of flood affectees in Pakistan.

The two sides also agreed to put in place effective arrangements and better coordination between the border control authorities to prevent violent incidents on the borders.

The President said that Pakistan and Iran face a common menace of drug trafficking across their borders and expressed the hope that initiatives and mechanism on both sides would help counter narcotics trafficking in the region.

The Spokesperson said that the President said that the trilateral summit provided a useful forum for coordination on Afghanistan and expressed optimism about the positive outcome of the summit. He also thanked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his governments efforts for attending the important summit.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thanked the President and Pakistans government for the warm welcome and appreciated the role Pakistan was playing in promotion of regional stability and peace and for its keen interest in further strengthening existing cordial equation with Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad said Pakistan was an important neighbor for Iran and assured continued support and assistance of his government in all sectors.

PR No. 127

Islamabad: February 16, 2012

A 22-member delegation of the Xinjiang Association of Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, headed by the Deputy Governor of the province of China called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at PMs House today. 

The delegation is currently visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Pak-China Institute of which Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed, former Senator and the federal Minister, is the Founding-Chairman.

The delegation includes top officials of media, culture, TV, radio and publishing fields. The Prime Minister appreciated the role of Pak-China Institute for bringing the people of the two countries closer.  He said that the Pakistan-China Institute was the first think tank in Pakistan devoted to strengthening relations with China in the fields of media, culture, education, youth, women and students.  It is an independent, non-political, non-party and non-governmental organization, the Prime Minister added.

The Prime Minister said that he had visited China many times and his last visit was in May 2011 which was extremely constructive.  The Prime Minister said the Year of Friendship 2011 had been a resounding success during which many events were held to celebrate the year. The secret of this friendship is love and affinity between the peoples of the two countries, the Prime Minister added. 

The Prime Minister said that his country was committed to enhancing people to people interaction and developing cultural contacts. He said that it was important to promote people to people contacts, in particular exchange of youth delegation that would help our friendship trickle down to younger generation.  The Prime Minister recalled his comments he uttered during the Chinese Premier visit to Pakistan last year wherein he had said, Pak-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than ocean, stronger than steel and sweeter that honey. 

Earlier, Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed thanked the Prime Minister for sparing time to meet the Chinese delegation which hails from adjoining province cities of Kashgar and Urumchi of Xinjiang province.  Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed said that composition of the delegation represents various walks of life like culture, media, education, youth, women and students.  He highlighted the affinity which existed between the province of Xinjiang and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Central Asian Republics. 

Mr Mushahid Hussain Syed said that it was heartening to know that Roots School System had arranged Chinese language classes where about 2200 students were learning the language.  

It may be pertinent to mention here that within a short span of time, the Pakistan-China Institute has emerged as an Institution that has credibility in both countries and employed an innovative approach to promote a bilateral bond that is today pivotal to the future stability, security and prosperity of Pakistan and China.

PR No. 128
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that SAFTA has the potential to establish a regional bloc with collective goals, and diversified abilities and potential as well as accelerate trade among the member countries.

The Prime Minister was addressing the SAARC Commerce Ministers at PMs House here today.

Following is the text of speech of the Prime Minister:

I am pleased to extend all of the distinguished delegates from the SAARC countries a very warm welcome. It is indeed a great pleasure for Pakistan to have the opportunity of hosting the 6th SAFTA Ministerial Council and its earlier meetings.

We are all aware that the signing of the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area in January 2006 was a momentous event in the history of SAARC. We have undertaken an initiative, which, I believe, can open up a huge opportunity for achieving much greater economic integration among countries of the region. Regional economic integration, in my view, is the most viable mechanism in the contemporary world.

In this context, I would like to mention that in todays world every country is struggling to transform the emerging challenges of globalization into opportunities for fostering development and economic prosperity. Regional trading arrangements are seen as an effective regime to encounter the global challenges through greater economic cooperation and engagement. The emergence of regional groupings across the world in recent times clearly demonstrates the need for forging deeper integration in our region.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is now widely recognized that regional trade agreements can complement the broader objectives of multilateral trade liberalization processes. A vast majority of existing regional agreements are established among geographical neighbours, as in the case of SAFTA. This is because such proximity provides inherent advantages in terms of greater and faster integration. SAFTA has also provided us with an enabling institutional framework to increase the existing low levels of intra-SAARC trade around 5% in comparison to the trade share of the regional trade of the European Union at 67 percent, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at 62 percent and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at 26 percent.

The potential benefits of a successful free trade agreement are multiple, and will not be restricted to increased trade alone. In fact it is not an exaggeration that the achievement of the core objectives of SAARC itself economic growth, social progress and cultural development including the promotion of the welfare of the people of South Asia, will depend, to a great extent, on the economic and other benefits that will result from implementation of SAFTA. It is, therefore, imperative that we build on the momentum by implementing decisions taken by bodies formed under SAFTA.

Distinguished audience  

The establishment of South Asian Free Trade Area depends critically on the ongoing negotiations. There are several vital issues that are to be successfully negotiated within the specified timeframe.

As per Trade Liberalization Programme under SAFTA, the Non-LDCs (Sri Lnaka, India and Pakistan) would reduce their tariff to 0.5% by 2013, whereas the LDCs would reduce tariff to 0.5% by 2016. The SAFTA tariff Liberalization Programme also allows the member states to retain Sensitive Lists that are not offered for concessional treatment. We know that India has two separate Sensitive Lists one for NLDCs and other for LDCs. Since India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are NLDCs in the region, this makes Indian Sensitive List Pakistan-specific. The Indian Sensitive List for NLDCs has 861 but for LDCs it has only 25 items.

We are also cognizant of the fact that the WTO trading arrangement is based on the principle of MFN, which implies non-discriminatory treatment among the member countries in terms of tariff as well as the number of tariff lines traded between the countries. Pakistan being the signatory to WTO is obliged to observe this principle.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I recognize that the outstanding issues of negotiation are quite complicated and it is not easy to find a common ground for all negotiating parties. Despite such difficulties, we have got to work hard and work in a spirit of goodwill and accommodation, keeping in mind the time limit and the urgency of deepening economic integration in our region. I have full confidence in you and firmly believe that you would be able to conclude the negotiations successfully.

I see SAFTA not only as a regional bloc but also as a union of regional countries with collective goals, common objectives and diversified abilities and potential. Let us harness this diversity into unity and create an enabling environment to put our respective countries on the road of economic development by increased mutual trade and investment.

On behalf of the government of Pakistan, I assure you of our fullest cooperation in our collective march towards prosperity and peace in the region.

Earlier Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, in his address said that the major aim of the forum was to promote economic cooperation between the member states. He said that Prime Minister of Pakistan has declared the year 2012 as year of regional trade and economic connectivity.

In his remarks, the Secretary Commerce said that South Asia was the least integrated region in the world in terms of regional trade, while NAFTA, EU and ASEAN countries had a thriving trade among their members.

Present on the occasion were Minister for Commerce Bangladesh, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad Quader, Minister for Economic Affairs Bhutan, Mr. Lyonpo Khandu Wangehuk, Minister for Commerce India, Mr. Anand Sahrma, Minister for Industry and Commerce Nepal, Mr. Lekh Raj Bhutta, Minister for Commerce Sri Lanka, Mr. A Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Economic Development Maldives, Ms. Aminath Shausan and Director General Commerce and Industries, Mr. Mozammil Shinwari.

Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Minister for Commerce, Ch Pervez Elahi, Minister for Defence Production and Industries, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Advisor to PM on Finance, and other senior officials of relevant ministries represented the Pakistani side.

PR No. 129
Islamabad: February 16, 2012

The Ambassador of Pakistani Mr. Shafkat Saeed has said that Pakistani Textile products have great potential of finding more space in European markets. He was talking to Mr. Sherppe, the president of Taxworld Fair being held here. The Ambassador visited Pakistani Pavilion and Pakistani entrepreneurs stalls. He discussed with the exhibiters prospects of business development in France and assured them of continuation of full support and cooperation from the Mission. The exhibiters told the Ambassador that the response of the buyers was highly encouraging, says a press release received from Paris here today.

This is 28th edition of taxworld being held in Paris, in which 638 exhibitors are participating from all over the world including China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh. Overall 65 companies are exhibiting their products. There was substantial presence of Pakistani manufacturers and exporters of denim and cotton fabrics. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has arranged national pavilion in the exhibition. Thirteen Pakistani Companies are participating under TDAP while other twenty companies are also exhibiting their fabrics. The companies include Nishat Mills, Kohinoor, Siddique Sons, Soorti, Sapphire and Rajbi Industries, In total 33 Pakistani companies are participating in the fair.   

PR No. 130

: February 16, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at the PM House this evening and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest in a frank and cordial atmosphere. They also discussed bilateral cooperation in various fields such as energy, banking, agriculture, infrastructure and trade.

Both leaders agreed to pursue the energy projects including electricity and gas on fast-track basis. They also discussed the status of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline as well.

The Iranian President said that his country was ready to enhance trade with Pakistan up to $10 billion within a couple of months. Both leaders also decided to improve the border management to facilitate transportation of goods.

Both  sides showed their willingness to open a new border point at Gabd and Reemdan between the two countries along the coastal highway of Paksitan.

The Iranian side also indicated its keen interest to import one million tonnes of wheat and 2,00,000/- tonnes of quality rice from Pakistan within weeks.

The Pakistani side was apprised of the progress made in connection with opening of the office of Pakistan Consulate General at Bandar Abbas to facilitate trade and travel.

Earlier, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani underscored the affinities between both countries, stressing that shared culture, religion, border and history would help tap immense trade potential existing between them.

The Prime Minister also extended his deep sense of gratitude to the Iranian leader on his countrys provision of electricity to Gawadar area. He said that the import of electricity from Iran would partially alleviate the electricity deficiency in the country.      

From Pakistan side those who attended the meeting included Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Advisor on Petroleum and Natural Resources, Dr. Asim Hussain, Minister for Communications, Dr. Arbab Alamgir, Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Textile Industries, Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Senior Government Officials.

Those who attended from Iran side included Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, Advisor and Head of President office, Asfandyar Mashaei, Vice President in Executive Affairs, Hameed Baghaie, Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan, Alireza Haghighian and other senior officials.

PR No. 131

: February 16, 2012

First Lady Begum Fauzia Gilani who is the Chief Guide Pakistan Girls Guide Association presented a cheque of Rs. one million to Ms Farhana Azim, National Commissioner of Pakistan Girls Guide Association at Prime Ministers House here today.

On the occasion, Begum Fauzia Gilani re-iterated the Governments commitment to make all out efforts for maximizing the social service activities in the country for welfare of the needy people. She said that Pakistan Girls Guide Association can play a vital role to achieve the desire results.

National Commissioner of Pakistan Girls Guide Association thanked the Chief Guide for extending financial support to the Organization and said that it would go a long way to increase the social service activities of the Organization.