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Trade, connectivity among ECO States pivotal for regional prosperity: President Arif Alvi

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Tuesday stressed greater trade and connectivity among the Countries of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to attain the goals of cohesive regional development and prosperity.

While addressing at the inaugural session of the Second Conference of Parliamentary Assembly of the Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO) Countries in Islamabad, the president said economic integration among regional states could act as an effective driver to foster sustainable peace and security.

The Conference gathered speakers and representatives of the national parliaments of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The president emphasized proper tapping of the region’s immense resources by ECO countries to nurture alliances for a win-win economic stability.

“Your voice will be only heard at global platform if you are economically strong and stable,” he said, stressing upon the need for a viable regional integration through open trade market for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

Dr. Arif Alvi said the ECO region, with its eight million square kilometer landmass and 500 million people, comprised six percent of the world population and had the potential to become economic power through institutionalized trade policy reforms.

In today’s world, he said, where morality was becoming irrelevant next to the oppressor’s own whims and wishes, a strong leadership and approach promoting the ethos of humanity was direly needed.

The president mentioned the West’s double standards and hypocrisy in the name of “freedom of expression” where the incidents of blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) were on rise compared with the intolerance against a slight discussion on the Holocaust.

President Arif Alvi also pointed that labeling the freedom movement of Palestinians and Kashmiris as terrorism by Israel and India was another approach of seeing them through the prism of prejudice.

The president, however, categorically said that Pakistan’s stance on Israel’s violations of human rights was “not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist”.

“We are against genocide. We are not against Jews or Christians, but against all oppressors of humanity,” he said.

“Anyone who resorts to oppression, we will raise voice against them,” he added.

The president expressed confidence that the Muslim world would join hands in giving the world a strong message on Islamophobia.

The Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said Pakistan believed in the parliamentary partnership among ECO states to ensure socio-economic development.

Bound by the bonds of religion, culture, and history, he said, it was imperative upon the ECO Countries to play a positive role in the comity of nations.

Asad Qaiser said economic connectivity in the region was significant to deal with the challenges of terrorism, amidst the risk posed by the non-state actors as an enemy of prosperity.

The speaker proposed ECO investment agency, the establishment of inter-regional linkages, and promotion of knowledge-based economies.

The speakers of the ECO Member Countries, present on the occasion and also virtually, highlighted different aspects of their mutual cooperation by overcoming regional issues, promoting harmony, safeguarding political liberties, and strengthening parliamentary linkages.

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