Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, the Head of Pakistan Delegation
at Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA)
Istanbul, 2-3 November 2010
Excellency Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey,
Excellency Dr. Zalmay Rassoul, Foregin Minister of Afghanistan,
Ministers, Special Envoys, Ambassadors, Excellencies and distinguished guests:
It is an honour for me to participate in the fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-IV). I wish to convey the regrets of my Foreign Minister that he could not participate in this important conference due to pressing commitments at home.
I express profound gratitude to the government of Turkey for its generous hospitality to participants of RECCA-IV.
Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity is of vital interest to Pakistan. It is also central to the entire region.
The RECCA process was initiated to steer economic development of Afghanistan. To advance this objective, Pakistan hosted RECCA-III which specifically identified several tangible projects. Many of these projects are now in various stages of implementation. We hope RECCA-IV will further the process initiated by RECCA-III in Islamabad.
Pakistan has significantly contributed to the development of Afghanistan. Under bilateral reconstruction programme worth US$330 million, Pakistan is building hospitals, schools, university faculties, and roads in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s assistance projects conform to the development priorities of the Afghan government.
Pakistan is participating in trans-Afghan regional energy projects. Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia-South Asia electricity grid (CASA-1000) are two such important projects.
Last week, Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) was signed. APTTA would not only facilitate the Afghan transit trade but create thousands of new jobs in Afghanistan. It will also strengthen Afghanistan’s position as a transit country between various regions.
Pakistan is also playing a significant role in capacity building of Afghanistan by providing training to Afghan officials in several fields including agriculture, diplomacy, banking, aviation, telecommunications and postal services.
An important aspect of our bilateral development partnership is accommodation of large number of Afghan students in Pakistani universities. Over the years, 28,000 Afghans have graduated from Pakistan while more than 6,000 Afghans are currently studying in our universities. One thousand Afghan students have joined or are about to join Pakistani universities since we met for RECCA-III last year. These scholarships are part of a new fully funded 2000 scholarship scheme to be implemented in another two years.
Pakistan’s ongoing development partnership with Afghanistan is reflective of our long term commitment to the well being and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan.
We look forward to adoption of a final outcome of RECCA-IV underlining cooperation for a cohesive development effort in Afghanistan.