FM presents 7-point agenda at SCO platform to fight common challenges

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ISLAMABAD, May 22 (APP):Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Wednesday linking Pakistan’s future with shared Pan-Asian prosperity said an institutional framework among the regional states was important to address common challenges mainly terrorism, poverty and economy through dispute resolution.

“Enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive without good-faith diplomacy and result-oriented dialogue,” he said in his address at the plenary session of Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.

Foreign Minister Qureshi pointed that South Asia, as part and parcel of SCO, lagged behind other regions in terms of regional cooperation, economic integration and connectivity that resulted in formidable challenges including poverty, illiteracy and disease.
He said political differences and unresolved disputes among the states had compounded the predicament.

On a positive note, he said, Pakistan had initiated work on the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate pilgrimage of Sikh pilgrims to visit their holy shrine, adding that “the Shanghai Spirit was being reinforced through the Kartarpur Spirit.”

Qureshi presented a seven-point agenda at the SCO meeting focusing on confidence-building measures among member states including control on weapon race, establishment of joint fund and international framework to combat corruption and crime.

He stressed developing regional consensus to arrest build up of missile defence systems by individual states or groups of states and to keep outer space free of weapons.

For integrated economy, he called for setting up SCO Development Fund and SCO Development Bank and also finalizing proposals for trade in local currencies.

He also stressed the need for evolving a comprehensive international framework to fight white collar crime and check production, supply, trafficking and demand for illicit drugs.

He said leveraging SCO’s institutional capacity could synergize various connectivity initiatives including Belt and Road Initiative, Economic Cooperation Organization, and Eurasian Economic Union.

He also suggested strengthening the SCO Youth Council to promote cultural understanding and said Pakistan looked forward to joining the Council soon.

The foreign minister mentioned that as the leadership of SCO member states would meet in June, there was a need to discuss the challenges confronting sustainable growth, environment and collective security.

He stressed that the SCO provided an excellent platform for collective endeavours and coordinated approaches.

He mentioned that SCO region representing 42 percent of humanity, 23 percent of world’s land mass, and 22 percent of global nominal gross domestic product was imbued with the ‘Shanghai Spirit’, aiming the way forward.  

Qureshi said Pakistan was a product of centuries of amalgamation of foreign and local influences along with other SCO states that had been epicenters of civilization.

He highlighted the fast-reaching fruition in shape of the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and said the geography of SCO region provided an opportunity for air, land and sea links connecting South with Central Asia, Middle East with China, Europe with the Far East, and Eurasia with the Sea.  

On terrorism, he said Pakistan condemned it in all forms and manifestations including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation and lauded the cooperation under SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure.

He mentioned that Pakistan was among one of the few countries to have successfully fought and reversed the tide of terrorism and extremism and was ready to share its experience and expertise with SCO states through the Structure. 

The foreign minister said Afghanistan remained central to Pakistan’s efforts to forge lasting regional stability and consistently called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of dialogue and reconciliation as the only viable way forward.

Earlier, SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov in his speech highlighted the objectives of the meeting, which was attended by foreign ministers of SCO member states, representatives of observer countries and director executive committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Jumakhon Giyosov.