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Pakistan, Uzbekistan agree to further deepen, expand strategic partnership

Pakistan, Uzbekistan agree to further deepen, expand strategic partnership

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Pakistan, Uzbekistan agree to further deepen, expand strategic partnership
Pakistan, Uzbekistan agree to further deepen, expand strategic partnership

Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Thursday agreed to further deepen and expand their strategic partnership in all areas and decided to conclude a treaty on strategic partnership.

This was agreed during the meeting held here between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who was a two-day (March 3-4) state visit of Pakistan at the invitation of the former.

According to a joint statement “Next Steps in the Strategic Partnership” issued here, leaders of the two countries held comprehensive consultations and considered all aspects of bilateral relations, paying special attention to the development of cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, science and technology, culture, education, security and defense and regional connectivity.Emphasizing the centuries-old historical, religious, cultural and scientific ties between the two peoples and based on previously reached agreements, “the parties agreed to further deepen and expand strategic partnership in all areas and in this context, decided to conclude a treaty on strategic partnership.”

The two leaders also exchanged views on issues of global and regional importance, intensifying contacts in international forums, including within the framework of the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Economic Cooperation Organization.

They reaffirmed their commitment to close interaction based on common positions and to continue the practice of mutual support at international and regional forums on all issues of mutual interest.

The Prime Minister congratulated President of Uzbekistan on the chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in 2022 and expressed Pakistan’s full support for Uzbekistan’s activities within the SCO and OIC, including the holding of the SCO Summit in the second half of 2022.

The President of Uzbekistan expressed the readiness to provide support to Pakistan’s initiative to create a poverty alleviation mechanism during the period of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the SCO.

Welcoming the 30th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, the two leaders agreed to celebrate this milestone in a befitting manner by organizing joint activities.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev shared his vision on the “New Uzbekistan” strategy and stated that the reform process was aimed at the socio-economic interests of the people of Uzbekistan and the region as a whole.

The Strategy lays emphasis on strengthening economic diplomacy and sets tasks to bring existing relations with South Asia, in particular with Pakistan, to a new level of strategic partnership, he added.

Highlighting the achievements in the socio-economic sphere, Prime Minister Imran Khan outlined his vision of the “Naya Pakistan” centered on social justice and economic security.

He said that Pakistan’s main emphasis has shifted from geo-politics to geo-economics.

The Prime Minister shared details about the “Ehsaas” program aimed at reducing poverty and underscored that Pakistan’s “Qaumi Sehat Card” (National Health Card) program is the first initiative in the field of medical micro-insurance for the citizens of Pakistan.

The two leaders stressed the importance of developing institutionalized cooperation between the two countries within the five main pillars of Pakistan’s “Vision Central Asia” political and diplomatic, trade and investment, energy and connectivity, security and defense and people-to-people relations.

Noting with satisfaction the intensification of the exchange of high-level visits between the two countries, the leaders warmly recalled the positive agreements in the areas of trade and investment, customs, military education, culture and tourism, as well as visa facilitation for representatives of business community and tourist groups, reached within the framework of official visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Republic of Uzbekistan on July 15-16, 2021.

The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation between the parliamentary bodies, exchange visits of the leaders of the Senate and the National Assembly of Pakistan and the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and hold meetings between the established inter-parliamentary groups of friendship and cooperation.

The leaders noted with satisfaction that over the past five years, bilateral trade has increased fivefold, and despite the pandemic, it grew by another 50 percent last year.

The two leaders welcomed the signing of Preferential Trade Agreement between Uzbekistan and Pakistan and the entry into force of the Transit Trade Agreement. These agreements are the sign of the beginning of a new era in bilateral trade relations and will serve to increase mutual trade by utilizing existing opportunities.

The leaders welcomed the convening of 7th session of the Uzbek-Pakistan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation, 2nd round of Bilateral Political Consultations, the Joint Business Forum and the 4th meeting of the Business Council, held on February 28, March 2, 2022.

They welcomed the understandings reached as a result of these meetings in textiles, pharmaceuticals, building materials, banking and finance, the chemical industry and other areas.

The leaders noted with satisfaction the interregional cooperation and linkages.

The leaders recalled the outcomes of the International Conference “Central and South Asia: Regional connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities” held on July 15-16 2021 in Tashkent.

The two leaders agreed on the need to fast track measures to further expand the connectivity agenda and economic integration.

They acknowledged key role of agreed connectivity corridors which envisage expansion of trade links through offering investment opportunities in the transport network, power pipelines and Special Economic Zones in the interests of the two countries, region and beyond.

The leaders reaffirmed the important role of the Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway project for the future of the region. It was agreed to evolve a joint “Road Map”, which includes measures to develop a feasibility study for the project and start construction work on both sides.

They acknowledged that the Trans-Afghan Railway project is the most economical and shortest route connecting Central Asia with Pakistan’s ports of Karachi, Gwadar and Qasim.

The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of air, rail and road connectivity.

Recognizing with satisfaction the steady development of bilateral cooperation in security and defense, the two leaders agreed to intensify dialogue and constructive cooperation between the armed forces of both countries, including through inter-staff talks and joint military exercises, training and exchange of professional experience.

They welcomed the establishment of Uzbekistan-Pakistan Joint Commission on Security which held its first meeting in Islamabad on November 2, 2021.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev acknowledged the common cultural heritage and centuries-old fraternal ties and reaffirmed their commitment to further expanding cultural ties and relations between the two nations.

In this regard, they welcomed the holding of the first Joint Seminar on the life of Zaheeruddin Muhammad Babur in Islamabad.

The leaders reviewed the progress of joint cultural and media projects, including the translation of Pakistani serials into Uzbek language and joint production on Babur.

The leaders agreed to strengthen the cooperation between the leading education institutions of the two countries.

The leaders praised the development of cooperation in the field of tourism and welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on ziyarat tourism.

In order to facilitate tourism and business linkages between the two countries, the Leaders agreed to launch regular flights on the routes “Tashkent – Lahore” and “Islamabad – Tashkent”.

The leaders expressed deep concern on the continuing trend of Islamophobia. Supporting the efforts of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to mark the International Day against Islamophobia on 15 March, the sides agreed to cooperate in the UN General Assembly.

Uzbekistan expressed its full support for Pakistan’s candidacy for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for 2025-2026.

The leaders agreed to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and emphasized that peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential to advance connectivity agenda which will lead to regional prosperity.

The importance of economic assistance to Afghanistan and un-freezing of Afghan foreign bank reserves was also stressed.

Read more: Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Khojaly Genocide

Uzbekistan expressed its gratitude to Pakistan for hosting 17th extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Afghanistan on December 19, 2021.

Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed the Uzbek side on the latest developments in Jammu & Kashmir, including concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment.

The leaders stressed the importance of cooperation and dialogue to resolve all outstanding regional disputes and achieve the goal of lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed his thanks to the Prime Minister of Imran Khan and the people of Pakistan for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to him personally and the Uzbek delegation and expressed his best wishes for their continued progress and prosperity.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev invited Prime Minister Imran Khan to pay an official visit to Uzbekistan at a convenient time.

The declaration was signed in duplicate on March 3, 2022 in Islamabad in Uzbek and English.

Earlier, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have expressed commitment to revive the traditional cooperative partnership through improved connectivity.

At a joint press stakeout with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Islamabad on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said it is matter of satisfaction that trade between the two brotherly countries increased by 50 per cent in last one year while joint ventures between the business communities of the two countries enhanced by 5 per cent.

The Prime Minister said we have decided to resume direct flights between the two countries that will not only improve connectivity but will help promote tourism and trade.

He said train route with Uzbekistan will help boosting linkages with Central Asian States which will also benefit the war torn Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister said both countries will jointly produce a film on Mughal Emperor Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad Babur.

He said he has shared his narrative on human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to the Uzbek President.

The Prime Minister said the United Nations should fully implement the international law against human rights violations in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Over Afghanistan issue, the Prime Minister said we will be lobbying to unfreeze the assets of Afghanistan.

He said campaign will be launched to devise ways and suggest measures for the recognition of Afghanistan.

Earlier, the two countries signed different Memorandum of Understandings including Strategic Partnership and Preferential Trade Agreement.

Other agreements include cooperation in the field Television and Radio, Promotion of Pilgrimage Tourism, cooperation in the field of environment and climate change, Action Plan of practical measures in the field of security and cooperation in Railways.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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