Zardari seeks trade liberalization, tariff cuts ECO members

BAKU (Azerbaijan): President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday urged ECO members to expedite implementation of past agreements for trade liberalization besides cutting down tariff and non-tariff barriers.
“We must resolve to operationalize the ECO Trade Agreement from January 1, 2013 and should also facilitate the private sector for promotion of trade, transport and energy sectors”, he said while speaking at the 12th ECO summit here.
The President said that the member states must commit to become a part of this fundamental agreement as this trade agreement was one of the core objectives of this Organization.
Emphasizing on regional connectivity, the President said that the vision of regional connectivity and trade articulated at the 3rd ECO Summit in Islamabad was given by his wife, Daughter of the East Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who he said was also his political leader.
He said that for most of us, she was a fighter as she fought for the women and children of Pakistan, a country of 200 million people.
He said that political legacy of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was a treasure that we all carry with great humility.
The President, referred to her speech of Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto at the 3rd ECO Summit Islamabad in March 1995, in which she said, “in the tapestry of history, our strong cultural and trading ties, our religious bonds, our mutual goals and objectives have woven us together into a rich communal cloth. Our poetry, our literature, our songs, our dances, our legends reflect the community of our nations, the brotherhood of our people.”
“This common heritage has given us the collective political will and the modus operandi for further regional cooperation and integration amongst our ten countries,” he said.
The President highlighted collective potential and the various challenges and threats to the potential of the ECO and said that the potential was clearly written in the Treaty of Izmir and in our past pledges.
The President said that it was obvious that ECO still has a long way to go to achieve its goals, adding that while other regional blocs have progressed but ECO has not progressed. He said that regional blocks like the European Union and ASEAN continue to deepen their regional linkages but the ECO continue to speak only of potential, rather than results.
The President said, “we must ask ourselves that why the ECO has not progressed and that we must challenge ourselves to do better constantly, adding that this was the only way forward for all of us.”
“We must challenge ourselves both within our countries, and as a collective group of brotherly nations”, the President said and urged for putting into action a vision of real cooperation among the member countries.
Emphasizing regional linkages, the President stressed for strengthening regional connectivity, adding that energy must flow from energy rich to energy deficient countries in the region and that oil and gas pipelines and power grids must be built.
“The ECO Train, which I like to call the Gul Train, must be implemented”, he said and hoped that it will enhance trade not only among Turkey, Iran and Pakistani businesses but in all countries of the region.
President Zardari said that this vision of an interconnected identity was not new but it was rooted in our spiritual and literary tradition and calls for unity and interconnectedness have echoed from Rumi  (poet) to Iqbal (poet thinker).
“Our rich historical bonds are unique. Perhaps no other region shares this as much as we do. And yet, no other region is as much under threat as we are”, the President said and urged for facing the challenges with courage and collective action. “We must not be shy of identifying the challenges”.
Identifying some of the challenges, the president said there are three clear dangers that will prevent us from achieving our potential, which includes terrorism, poverty and illiteracy and the threat to the fundamental rights to our people, most of all, our daughters.
“I opened this speech with a mention of the Daughter of the East but I must speak to you today about the Daughter of Pakistan – my daughter Malala Yusufzai”, the President said and added that Malala Yusufzai is 15 years old child yet she has been an advocate for girls education when she was 11 years old.
The President said that Malala is a symbol of all that is good about us and that she represents the resilience of our girls and women.
He said that last week, Malala’s attackers were not just trying to kill the Daughter of Pakistan when they attacked her but they tried to kill Pakistan.
The President said that terrorists didn’t stop at Afghanistan and they would not stop at Pakistan. He termed the attack on Malala an attack on every child in our region and an attack on the future of the region.
He said that we cannot sit idly as our children are attacked, adding that we must act and act urgently. “We must arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime and we will nab and prosecute them”.
The President noted that action against terrorists also involves eliminating the heroin trade that was not only destroying people’s lives but also financing terrorism.
“But most importantly we must act to fight and defeat the militant mindset. What kind of mindset allows a human being to shoot a little girl?”, the President questioned and observed that this mindset was our biggest collective enemy.
President Zardari urged for joint action against terrorists and said that my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan must understand that we are with them in this struggle and that we have suffered together.
He said that we suffer the scourge of heroin and the tragedy of refugees together besides the menace of extremism and violence.
We must also fight this scourge together and that we must not blame each other as this is what the terrorists want.
“The terrorists want brother to fight brother. We reject the terrorists and we also reject the blame game. We also reject allowing terrorists to define us as we will define ourselves by what we truly are”, he remarked.
The President said that we are defined by love, by togetherness, by Rumi and Iqbal, by the beauty and grace of our daughters, by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and by our daughters like Malala Yusufzai.
He said that Malala has done more for Pakistan’s future than any military operation has done or will do in the future.
The President said that Malala has exposed just how weak and pathetic terrorists are and assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power to ensure that our future is Insha Allah, what Malala represents.
He said that we cannot do it alone, adding that the potential of ECO nations was most at risk at the hands of Malala’s attackers.
The President invited the leaders to join hands with Pakistan and commit together to a collective future in which Malala Yusufzai and her sisters from your countries will have a secure future, bright and promising future defined by courage, knowledge and prosperity.
The President congratulated the President of Azerbaijan for assuming the leadership of the ECO. He also thanked and admired the President of Turkey for his guidance and leadership during his tenure as Chairman.
President Zardari offered the member states to host the next ECO summit in Islamabad.-APP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s