ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan will lead the country at the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit on September 16-17 in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.

On September 16-17, Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay a visit to Tajikistan at the request of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. The prime minister will be accompanied by a high-level cabinet delegation.

This would be the Prime Minister’s third visit to Central Asia, demonstrating Pakistan’s increased involvement with the area.

He previously participated through video-conference at the SCO-CHS held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on 13-14 June 2019 and the SCO-CHS sponsored by Russia on 10 November 2020.

On June 15, 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an eight-member permanent inter-governmental trans-regional organisation, was founded in Shanghai. Pakistan joined the SCO as an observer in 2005 and became a full member in June 2017 during the Astana SCO-CHS Summit. Other SCO members include Russia, China, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

In addition, the SCO comprises four Observer nations (Iran, Mongolia, Belarus, and Afghanistan) and six Dialogue Partners (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka).

On the sidelines, the prime minister will conduct bilateral talks with other participating leaders.

“His meetings with Tajik President will cover the whole spectrum of bilateral relations, including increasing trade, economic, and investment connections, with a particular focus on regional connectivity,” the Foreign Office stated.

The two countries have already indicated a strong desire to create a formal strategic relationship.

The prime minister will preside over the inaugural meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum, for which a delegation of Pakistani businesspeople is also in Dushanbe.

“The Joint Business Forum will accelerate expanding trade and investment links and boost business-to-business connections between the commercial communities on both sides,” according to the FO statement.

On the margins, the Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council will convene.

Pakistan and Tajikistan have close fraternal connections based on shared faith, history, and culture. The two nations have common perspectives and a desire to support regional economic development, peace, security, and stability.

The Prime Minister’s visit is part of Pakistan’s expanded involvement with Central Asia under the ‘Vision Central Asia’ strategy, which has refocused attention on five important areas: political connections, commerce and investment, energy and connectivity, security and defence, and people-to-people interactions.

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