Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday announced the country’s decision to join the Ashgabat Agreement and the Lapis Lazuli Corridor while addressing a two-day Global Sustainable Transport Conference in this Turkmen capital. The Ashgabat agreement is a transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and seeks to create an international transport and transit corridor.
The objective of the agreement is to facilitate the transport of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor seeks to foster transit and trade cooperation between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey by reducing barriers facing transit trade.
It intends to develop a Custom Procedure Integration in the region. “I would like to take this historic opportunity to announce our agreement in principle to join the Ashgabat Agreement as well as the Lapis Lazuli Corridor. “I am positive (the Ashgabat Agreement) will be beneficial not only to Pakistan but also to the entire Central Asian and South Asian region and beyond,” Sharif said.
He said “peaceful neighbourhood is a key pillar of (Pakistan’s) policy”, adding that without regional peace and stability “we will not be able to reap the benefits of regional connectivity and integration”. “Through integration of economies, markets and, more importantly cultures, which provide the doorway for peaceful co-existence, I have asked my relevant government ministers to approach the depository countries for an early start of negotiations in this behalf,” he added.
Referring to China’s one-belt one-road initiative as a “game-changer”, the PM said: “It aims to create the world’s largest platform to integrate development of various regions in the Eurasian land mass.” He said the most promising element of this initiative is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. “A package of multiple infrastructure and development projects that will boost connectivity in the region, help integrate South Asia, China, Central Asia and the Middle East and offer opportunities for hundreds of millions of people in this region.”