ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay a two-day official visit to Tajikistan to attend the SCO summit and have bilateral talks with the Tajik leadership on mutual ties, Pakistan Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
Khan will participate in the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in Dushanbe.
He has been invited by Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon for the visit from September 16 to 17, the Foreign Office (FO) said, adding that he will be accompanied by a high-level ministerial delegation.
He earlier participated in SCO-CHS held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on June 13-14, 2019 and SCO-CHS hosted by Russia on November 10, 2020, through video conference.
The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is an eight-member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.
India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
SCO also has four Observer states — Iran, Mongolia, Belarus and Afghanistan and six Dialogue Partners — Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka.
Khan will have bilateral meetings with other participating leaders on the sidelines, the FO said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the Indian delegation virtually at the annual summit of the SCO) on September 17, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi on Wednesday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will travel to Dushanbe to attend the SCO meetings.
After attending the SCO-CHS, Prime Minister Khan will have the bilateral segment of the visit by talks with the Tajik President, which will cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations, especially enhancing trade, economic and investment ties with a particular focus on regional connectivity.
The two countries earlier expressed a strong commitment to enter into a formal strategic partnership.
Khan will also inaugurate the first meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum for which a group of Pakistani businessmen will also visit Dushanbe.
The Joint Business Forum will catalyse growing trade and investment relations and promote business to business contacts between the trading communities of both sides.
A meeting of the Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council will also be held on the sidelines.
Pakistan and Tajikistan enjoy close relations, having shared perceptions and a common desire to promote economic development, peace, security and stability in the region.
Khan’s visit is part of Pakistan’s deepened engagement with Central Asia through ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy, having revitalised focus in five key areas of political ties, trade and investment, energy and connectivity, security and defence, and people-to-people contacts.
This will be Khan’s third visit to Central Asia, underlining Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with the region, according to FO.