Sanjrani proposes visa-free regime in Asia


–Asian Parliamentary Assembly Standing Committee on Political Affairs adopts ‘Gwadar Statement’

–Moot stresses on working for regional peace, development, prosperity

GWADAR: Acting President and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Monday proposed a visa-free regime in Asia, expressing Pakistan’s desire to expand socio-economic ties with the Asian countries. He was addressing the members of Asian Parliamentary Assembly Standing Committee on Political Affairs here in Gwadar.

He underscored the need for solid and practical steps to materialise the dream of the creation of an Asian Parliament. He said that there was a need to move forward by introducing a visa-free regime for Asian countries.

The APA committee also adopted the Gwadar Statement which declares that while all countries in the Asian region have their national priorities and goals, they must work together, synergise their resources and efforts, and support each other for the collective sustainable development of Asia.

The Gwadar Statement termed it critical to highlight that while Asian vision is focused on trade, economic and energy markets, it also carries a much-needed heed to help adapt to climate change and preservation of environment. To mark this historic gathering, the distinguished delegates also lent a hand in Pakistan’s national drive towards tree plantation campaign.

The meeting also adopted a resolution titled ‘Towards an Asian Parliament’. The resolution was proposed by Pakistan and was adopted as part of the Lahore Declaration on 3rd December, 2014.

The Committee during the proceedings also approved the draft resolutions on good governance, rule of law and judicial empowerment, good parliamentary practices, building prosperity in Asia through friendship and cooperation, Asian parliaments and governments together for prosperity in Asia.

Earlier in day, an exclusive presentation was arranged for the participants of the conference by Gwadar Development Authority (GDA). Senate Secretary Amjed said that promoting regional inclusivity and socio-economic mainstreaming of peripheral areas of federating units is an agenda of the Upper House.  He said that interconnectivity and regional integration is a joint quest for both APA and Pakistan. In this regard, Gwadar carries an enormous significance in furthering ‘shared prosperity’ agenda a potential economic, trade and energy hub in the region, that will open doors for inter and intra-regional trade among different continents.

The acting president, on the sidelines of Asian Parliamentary Assembly Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Special Committee on Creation of Asian Parliament, held meetings with the parliamentary delegations of Turkey, Bahrain, East Timor, France, Iran, Inter-parliamentary Union and APA secretary general and others.

In his meeting with Senator Pascal Alizard, Head of France-Pakistan Friendship Group, the acting president said that Pakistan’s Senate has also formed a friendship group and the groups would play an effective role in the promotion of bilateral ties. He said that delay in the master plan slowed down the pace of development in Gwadar.

The French delegate said that Gwadar offers huge opportunities for investment. Sanjrani said that foreign investors can take benefit of the huge investment potential in the area.

IPU Secretary General termed it a wise decision to organise and host APA committee meetings in Gwadar which helped in showcasing Gwadar properly before the world. He said that parliaments have a crucial role in pushing forward the development agenda.

While talking to APA Secretary General Muhammad Reza Majidi, the acting president emphasised the need for more close collaboration between Pakistan and Iran, and said that the Asian countries need to prioritise development and economic cooperation.

The APA secretary general said that the creation of Asian Parliament was proposed by Pakistan and Pakistan has huge importance in the region.

The acting president said that there is a need to move beyond resolutions now and all countries need to play a vibrant and robust role in this regard. The APA secretary then proposed a think tank comprising of experts can play a significant role to this end.

While talking to the parliamentary delegation of Turkey, Sadiq Sanjrani said that Pakistan and Turkey have played an active role on the platform of APA and there is need to further boost this cooperation. He called upon Turkish investors to invest in different sectors in Gwadar.

Turkish delegation also invited the Senate chairman to visit Turkey. In his meeting with Iran’s parliamentary delegation, the acting president said that Pakistan and Iran are intertwined in historical and cultural relations and the bond of friendship between the two has cultural and religious similarities He said that both the countries share 920 km long border.

He said that there is huge potential to play a more significant role in the forum of APA. The acting president said that Pakistan desires to further consolidate relationship with Iran.

Pakistan-Iran Friendship Group in the Senate is playing a vibrant role in promoting bilateral ties, the acting president said. The Balochistan chief secretary informed the delegates about the facilities being extended to pilgrims besides the security arrangements made for them.

In meeting with delegations from Nepal, Bahrain, Syria and East Timor, Sanjrani underscored the need for closer collaboration between parliaments and work on developing people to people linkages.