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President of Belarus pays official visit to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from October 4th-6th

Pragmatism of dialogue

President of Belarus pays official visit to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from October 4th-6th

This event can be compared with the recent state visit to the PRC. Pakistan is known to be among the closest partners of China. Belarusian-Chinese interaction has been brought to a higher level after the visit to Beijing. Strategic ideas of inter-state co-operation are also similar: both Pakistan and Belarus view China as supports in their global transport and logistic initiatives. This completely corresponds to the interests of the partner-states, since it causes the inflow of direct foreign investments to the development of infrastructure, new productions and, later, the growth of revenues from transit.

Negotiations between President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, were held in Islamabad

Almost two dozen documents summed up the negotiations between the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, in Islamabad. The documents reinforce intentions and concrete agreements on co-operation across various spheres, while the protocol on the exchange of ratifying certificates launched the treaty on friendship and co-operation between the two states. The mutual aspirations of Minsk and Islamabad towards rapprochement received a legislative base. Since the first visit of Alexander Lukashenko to Pakistan, the dialogue has been active for over a year already.

The desire to expand the geography of foreign political and economic contacts of Islamabad is logical. This is a strong and influential state; one of the world’s nine nuclear powers. The most important transport arteries in the region pass through its territory and their stability primarily depends on Pakistan, as well as the solution of issues dealing with security in the region. Minsk is also not a novice to transit issues, so sharing experiences will be extremely useful. Moreover, our largest and most significant projects in this sphere are implemented in co-operation with the People’s Republic of China, as well as the Pakistani-Chinese project to create a joint transport corridor. This idea is supported by society and business circles. It’s very convenient to interact with the neighbouring countries of the region from Pakistan. This also explains Minsk’s interest towards collaboration with Islamabad. It refers not only to bilateral interaction but to close co-operation with third friendly states, and collaboration with China, is among top priorities here.

Alexander Lukashenko and Nawaz Sharif expressed their common position across major areas of co-operation in a joint statement. The two states declared their desire to continue supporting each other further on the international arena. They will be also stimulating the development of interaction at ministerial level and between the regions, in the sphere of small and medium-sized businesses. The negotiations also tackled the topic of collaboration in nuclear power engineering. Like Minsk, Islamabad is realising a range of projects in this area, so the exchange of opinions will be mutually beneficial. In total, the final document will be universal, declaring the interest of the states to reinforce interaction in policy, trade, industrial co-operation, investment, humanitarian and the social sphere.

At Pakistan-Belarus Investment & Business Forum

The practical implementation of these initiatives was discussed at the Pakistan-Belarus Investment & Business Forum whose opening ceremony was attended by the President. He addressed entrepreneurs, saying, “I call on Pakistani businessmen to make wider use of our industrial opportunities in the implementation of various infrastructural projects in our country. Minsk Tractor Works, Belarusian and Minsk Automobile Works, as well as Amkodor, Bobruiskagromash, Gomselmash, Lidselmash and other large enterprises that have gained popularity on the world markets, are ready for collaboration.”

The tactics proposed are traditional, offered to all partner-states: to determine 3-4 key projects for the two countries and to implement them in the best possible way. This will be an example to others, as well as an impetus for the expansion of business contacts. Of course, the heads of states will personally support these initiatives. For this, an agreement has been reached in their regular meetings, enabling them to control processes of the fulfilment of decisions, adopted at the highest level. Mr. Lukashenko invited Mr. Sharif to visit Belarus at any convenient time. Moreover, the President of Belarus urged businessmen to focus on the achievement of a major orienting point.

“We’ve agreed with the Prime Minister to bring our trade turnover to $1bn within four years. Agree with each other as you wish but $1bn should be within four years — not less,” noted Mr. Lukashenko.

Meeting with President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain

Entrepreneurs regarded the directive favourably.

Mr. Lukashenko also had negotiations with the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, and the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Sardar Sadiq.

A lighter moment in the visit was when a working tractor was unexpectedly seen in a street in Islamabad. In line with local tradition, the vehicle was generously decorated with fringes and sparkling toys. It resembled a Christmas tree rather than serious machinery. However, its trademark could be guessed even behind the fringe: ‘Belarus’, produced back in the Soviet era yet still working perfectly on the clearance of a construction site…

Pakistan has long been aware of our country and the goods we manufacture though they didn’t always relate it to a location on the map. ‘Belarusians’ were an illustration of the once large-scale co-operation with the USSR. Local specialists speak fondly of the reliability of our machinery.

Last year, Minsk and Islamabad signed 58 documents on the development of co-operation across various spheres, as well as almost two dozen memorandums and agreements that were concluded during the current visit. This is a serious legislative basis for the development of interaction across all areas and the practical elements won’t be far behind.

Together with Speaker Sardar Sadiq

Belarus’ Industry Minister, Vitaly Vovk, also sees promising prospects on the Pakistani market, “I believe that we have a good chance, taking into account the relations between the heads of our states. This will enable us to gain a foothold on the Pakistani market.”

According to the Minister, almost all large industrial enterprises will be working actively in Pakistan. MTZ, BelAZ, MAZ, Bobruiskagromash, Belshina, Amkodor and other companies have interests there. Moreover, their intentions have been already discussed with potential Pakistani partners at the business forum and the necessary documents have been signed. For example, a contract for the supply of products was signed by Belshina JSC and is currently discussing the possibility of setting up joint production under its brand with Pakistan’s only tyre manufacturer. The Pakistani Province of Sindh will purchase BelAZ quarries, as they are going to develop one of the largest open pits to extract fossil coal. Next year, up to twenty Belarusian vehicles will start working here. The project will develop quickly, in several stages, each of which will demand the purchase of 20-30 quarries. Moreover, Amkodor JSC will launch the production of special machinery in the city of Lahore within a month.

It’s clear that we have common plans, if we take into account the personal support of business initiatives by the heads of state and their good relations. On the last day of his visit, the President and the Prime Minister had a warm informal meeting in the countryside residence of Nawaz Sharif. Alexander Lukashenko and Nawaz Sharif have demonstrated their personal interest in the active development of fruitful inter-state interaction.

Day of memory

On the way from Islamabad, the President’s plane landed in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, with Alexander Lukashenko being welcomed by the Acting President of Uzbekistan, Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev

The President visited the Hazrat Hizr cemetery, located close to the Shah-i-Zinda Memorial and laid flowers at the tomb of Islam Karimov. Then the present commemorated the memory of Uzbekistan’s first president with a minute of silence.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev informed the President of Belarus about the history of the Hazrat Hizr cemetery and the Memorial Complex. Then Alexander Lukashenko went to the Palace of Forums where he laid a wreath at the photo of Islam Karimov. There the Head of State talked to Islam Karimov’s widow Tatyana Karimova and expressed his condolences to her family.

Speaking to Mr. Mirziyoyev, Mr. Lukashenko said that his official visit to Uzbekistan should have begun on that day. “I didn’t choose this moment in advance. On board the plane I looked through my schedule and saw that I was going to meet with Islam Abdulganiyevich [Karimov] here on October 6th-8th to discuss current issues. Our main goal is to do our best to intensify relations between the nations of Belarus and Uzbekistan, it will be a fitting tribute to him.”

Mr. Mirziyoyev thanked Mr. Lukashenko on his arrival in Samarkand and for the sincere support rendered by Belarus to Uzbekistan.

By Dmitry Kryat
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