GOA (India), May 5 (APP): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday stressed a collective action by the regional countries under Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to jointly address the common issues, particularly climate change, poverty and terrorism.
He said geopolitics must not affect the commitment to address the challenges and learn lessons for the collective good.
“The solution to our collective challenges should be collective action, not a divided reaction… We must isolate these issues from hyper-partisan geopolitics if we are to succeed,” he said in his address at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, held in the resort city.
Chairman of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, Dr. S. Jaishankar, the foreign ministers of SCO member states, the Secretary General of SCO, and Director, Executive Committee of SCO-RATS attended the meeting.
Bilawal said Pakistan considers the SCO a key regional platform comprising countries, which are bound together by longstanding historical, cultural, civilizational and geographical ties.
“Our excuse cannot be we were too divided to put up a fight!,” he said.
He highlighted Pakistan’s vision of enhanced regional economic connectivity and win-win cooperation.
The foreign minister said the climate crisis posed an existential threat to humanity and proposed the establishment of a Joint Working Group in SCO on Climate Change.
He mentioned that Pakistan recently faced the greatest climate catastrophe and stressed that the planet could only be saved from the ravages of climate change if the international community worked in unison.
He emphasized holding the developed world up to their commitment to providing US $ 100 billion annually for climate finance.
On connectivity, he said Pakistan looked forward to hosting the ‘Conference on Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity’ in September 2023.
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could be a force multiplier for regional connectivity, adding that the route CPEC offered all countries to take the journey further and connect the dots towards full regional economic integration.
He congratulated Iran, which would soon become the newest member of the SCO family and welcomed the accession of Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates as new Dialogue Partners.
He said poverty still plagued this region and mentioned that Pakistan was proud of the internationally acclaimed Benazir Income Support Program which ushered in a silent revolution of poverty alleviation together with women’s empowerment.
He said the establishment of the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation proposed by Pakistan would be a step in that direction.
Bilawal termed the collective security of the region a joint responsibility and said terrorism continued to threaten global security.
“Let’s not get caught up in weaponizing terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring,” he said, and recalled that he spoke as the son whose mother was assassinated at the hands of terrorists. “I feel the pain of this loss, empathize with victims across the world in a way most can’t.”
He said Pakistan was firmly committed to being part of regional and global efforts for eradicating this menace that required a comprehensive and collective approach to address the root cause as well as the threats posed by specific groups.
“It requires that we let this challenge unite us to fight it rather than divide us to become its victim. Our success requires us to isolate this issue from geo-political partisanship,” he said.
He said given that many SCO members confront the menace of terrorism, often from the same terrorist groups, the SCO RATS needs to be further strengthened to effectively address the growing threats to peace and security.
“We must stop conflating non-state actors with state actors. Condemn all forms of terrorism including state-sponsored terrorism,” he pointed out.
On Afghanistan, he called upon the international community to meaningfully engage with the Interim Afghan Government to better understand and influence the course of events, especially on girls’ right to education and security.
He called on the Interim Afghan authorities to uphold their commitment to not allowing the use of Afghan soil for terrorism.
“A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability,” he said.
Bilawal said Pakistan remained committed to multilateralism and continues to play a leading role at all international forums, including the United Nations, for forging friendly relations among nations and supporting the peaceful settlement of longstanding international disputes.
He commended China’s recent role in bridging differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran and said that “When great powers play the role of peacemaker, we can unlock the potential of peace while paving the way for greater cooperation, regional integration, and economic opportunities for our peoples.”
He expressed Pakistan’s unwavering support and commitment to the SCO’s goals and objectives, saying that SCO represented the future with 40 percent of the world’s population and almost a quarter of the world’s GDP.