Moon Desk: Pakistan and Azerbaijan on Thursday agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and aviation sectors to reflect the decades-old strong relationship between the two nations.
The bilateral relations were discussed at length in a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev here at Zugulba Palace.
The prime minister, accompanied by a high-level delegation is on a two-day official visit to Baku at the invitation of President Aliyev.
At a joint press stakeout following their bilateral meeting, the two leaders told the media of agreeing to introduce flights of Azerbaijan airline between the two capitals, enhance number of military exercises, besides exploring the avenues of cooperation in the areas of energy, investment and education.
Prime Minister Shehbaz, who earlier visited the mausoleum of Azerbaijan first president Haider Aliyev and the martyrs monument, spoke high of the President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership to build the city’s infrastructure and impressive horticulture.
Citing the “pleasant surprises” of neatness and beauty of Baku, the prime minister requested the Azerbaijan president to lend their experts in horticulture and waste management to Islamabad.
He told the media that during the “wonderful” discussion, there was a “total unanimity” of views on various bilateral and multilateral issues as the relationship was built on mutual trust and sincerity of purpose.
The prime minister said that the Pakistani flags all across Baku manifested the love between the two people.
“Though our ties are so strong since ages, these do not reflect its intensity through trade and investment, exchange of visits and other important areas of cooperation,” the prime minister remarked.
Emphasising cooperation in energy sector, he said being an energy-deficient country, Pakistan depended upon costly imported fuels spending $27 billion last year which was becoming unaffordable owing to the challenges of imported inflation and oil price hike due to the Ukraine crisis.
The prime minister said that his government was committed to replace the costly imported fuels with solar energy to support industries, exports, commerce and offices.
He thanked the Azerbaijan president for abolishing duties on Pakistan’s rice to facilitate the export of the Pakistani commodity to the friendly country.
He said Pakistan welcome the Azerbaijan airline to start its operations to Islamabad and invited the country’s aviation minister to Pakistan to work out Baku-Karachi flights with a view to promote bilateral tourism.
The prime minister thanked Azerbaijan for being a staunch supporter of Kashmir and highlighted the Indian acts of terror and atrocities in the Valley including the violations of UN resolutions.
He reiterated that Pakistan was committed to to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and appreciated the bravery of country’s forces for fighting for Azerbaijan’s rights.
He said Pakistan did not recognize Armenia and always stood by Azerbaijan considering it a duty. Highlighting the immense opportunities Gwadar Port offered, the prime minister said both the countries could cooperate to enhance trade.
He told the media that the Pakistan-Azerbaijan cooperation in defence was not a secret as it was meant for peace of the region, not any aggression.
Extending an invitation to President Ilham Aliyev to visit Pakistan, the prime minister said he also looked forward to see the Azerbaijan delegations of economic, aviation and energy ministers to discuss at length the cooperation in petroleum, and solar energy.
In his remarks, President Ilham Aliyev welcomed the prime minister and his delegation to Baku and said both the countries had agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of energy, defence and education.
He said Azerbaijan hoped to host more Pakistani students and Azeri students studying in Pakistani universities contributed to strengthening bilateral relationship.
He told the media that the two sides have agreed to increase the number of military exercises as military capability was of utmost importance considering the changing circumstances.
He said strong military capacity guaranteed independence and and territorial integrity as Azerbaijan also liberated its Karabakh region from Armenian occupation through its military might, not dialogue.
He said Pakistan and Azerbaijan always stood shoulder to shoulder as both the peoples shared same views on host of issues.
Appreciating the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz, the Azerbaijan president congratulated the people of Pakistan for having such a great leader with vision and commitment to country development.