Baku, 18 May 2022 (TDI): Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, and the accompanying Parliamentary delegation held meetings with the Speakers of the Parliaments of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Third PAECO Conference in Baku. The Speaker is currently visiting Azerbaijan to attend the Third General Conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO).

The Third PAECO Conference is being hosted by the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of Azerbaijan in Baku. During his meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of Azerbaijan, Sahiba Gafarova, Raja Pervez Ashraf said that parliamentary diplomacy is a key component of brotherly ties between the two countries.

Likewise, such interaction will improve cooperation in all fields. Regarding education, the Speaker lauded the establishment of the Department of Urdu at Baku University.

He also suggested creating a “Kashmir Chair” in that Department. Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf also proposed to establish a “Karabagh Chair and a Department of Azerbaijani Studies” at the University of Pakistan.

Such a venture will encourage the youth of the two countries to understand each other. On her part, the Azerbaijani Speaker reiterated her invitation to the Speaker National Assembly.

The invitation was for the Baku Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliamentary Network (NAMPN). She also extended an invitation for a bilateral visit to Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Raja Pervez Ashraf held a meeting with Nurdinjon Ismoilovon, the Speaker of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of Uzbekistan. During his meeting with his Uzbek counterpart, the Speaker stated that parliamentary diplomacy was a “tool to foster bilateral ties.”

Also, such interactions help to engage with each other on issues pertaining to mutual interest. In the same vein, he stressed the need to enhance the exchange of delegations at the parliamentary and governmental levels as well as in all fields.

These include education and cultural exchange programs so as to promote people-to-people contact between the two countries. Moreover, he further enunciated that connectivity was of paramount importance for the region.

Initiatives like the railroad from Peshawar-Mazar e Sharif-Tashkent were important in this context. On Afghanistan, the two officials expressed that as a contiguous neighbor of both Pakistan and Uzbekistan, peace in Afghanistan is vital for regional and global peace.

While the Uzbek Speaker on his part reiterated that in spite of the immense potential of trade ties, the current trade and commercial relations between the two countries are unsatisfactory.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Raja Pervez Ashraf also met the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Sentop.

During his meeting with the Turkish Speaker, Raja Pervez Ashraf articulated that the Pak-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Group has played an essential role to rejuvenate the Parliament to Parliament ties between Turkey and Pakistan.

Along these lines, the Speaker underscored his desire to arrange the Trilateral Speakers Conference of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan in near future.

He also thanked the Turkish Speaker for support on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir at all regional and global fora. He also praised the role played by the Turkish President in raising his voice for the Kashmiri people at the United Nations and other noteworthy platforms.

Also, he appreciated Turkey’s role in the aftermath of the Syrian crisis and its support for the Syrian refugees. Whereas the Turkish Speaker on his part pledged the support of Turkey on the Jammu & Kashmir issue.

He further stated that Turkey’s stance was clear on the issue and it must be resolved as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the will and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Furthermore, he pointed out that presently, Turkey held the Presidency of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, while the next turn to hold the Presidency was for Pakistan.

Nevertheless, due to some issues, the Presidency of APA had been moved to India. APA was a platform with the potential to become a meaningful forum for the entire continent but due to some reasons, its potential remained untapped.

Lastly, he invited the Speaker National Assembly to visit Istanbul for the IPU Migration Conference for in-depth discussions on matters of mutual importance.

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