PM's Visit to Turkey, Iran and China

Article excerpt

There is a growing impression in the country that Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has emerged wiser and soberer from her two-and-a-half-year political 'Vanaparasth' and is looking more mature and realistically - disposed than in her previous term. These impressions obviously are being gathered from the policies and programmes that she has been pursuing ever since her return on the country's political-cum-administrative horizon in October last.

Soon after her reappearance on the political stage as head of government she made policy pronouncements, and actually embarked on odyssies that took her to friendly, rather brotherly, countries of Iran and Turkey for talks or discussions leading to economic development of Pakistan resulting in better and more fruitful relationship with the two countries both of which are full of potential, particularly in the energy and power sectors. For example when she went to Iran (after a brief stop-over in Abu Dhabi and meeting the Sultan there) She called on the Iranian President Akbar Hashim Rafsanjani (December 8). The two leaders called for implementation of joint projects discussed between the two countries previously. These included a natural gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan, an oil refinery in the latter country and building a railway line from Zahedan, a south-eastern Iranian city linked to Pakistan by rail, to Kirman which is on Iran's national network. Pakistan intends importing natural gas from Iran through a 1170-mile long pipeline to meet its domestic requirements. The estimated 4.4 billion dollar project is likely to be built on a regional basis with financial assistance from the Gulf states of Qatar and Oman. A 42-inch diameter pipeline will be brought from Kangan gas field, the biggest gas reservoir in Iran, to the Pakistani border in Balochistan. The project is expected to be a joint venture between Iran and Pakistan.

From Iran, the Prime Minister went to Turkey, towards the second week of December. There the two countries agreed to improve bilateral trade to a degree commensurate with the existing potential. Both Pakistan and Turkey decided to enter into close cooperation in areas like mining, oil and gas exploration, and joint ventures for the said purpose. Close cooperation between the two countries was also sought in further improving trade ties, and in the field of construction. The two sides also decided to cooperate in the Banking sector; Turkey would be setting up a bank in Pakistan. To promote trade between the two countries, a decision was taken by the Prime Ministers of the two countries to establish free zones in both countries. A joint Pakistan-Turkey company would be set up to undertake projects in the Middle East, Gulf and Central Asia, particularly in the field of construction. Turkey also agreed to increase rice and leather imports from Pakistan.

Major concessions obtained during the Prime Minister's visit to iran and Turkey, have made the job of boosting exports to a sustainable degree entrusted to the Task Force on Exports relatively easy. Hopes were being entertained in the official circles of Pakistan that if Iran could offer crude oil with a waiver of charges of 45 cents a barrel under a long-term agreement, Pakistani cotton and rice could find a ready market in Iran. …