PM Imran Khan in Bishkek to attend SCO’s Council of the Heads of State Meeting

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Prime Minister Imran Khan accompanied by the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Special Assistant on Youth Affairs Muhammad Usman Dar arrived at the Kyrgyz Capital Bishkek on Thursday for a two-day visit, the Dispatch News Desk (DND) news agency reported.

The prime minister was received by the Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and the Kyrgyz Minister for Health Kosmosbek Sarievich Cholponbaev.

Imran Khan has arrived in Bishkek to attend the 19th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of State (CHS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Besides Pakistan, the SCO’s membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan whereas its Observers include Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia.

The Council of Heads of State is the highest forum of SCO which considers and defines strategy, prospects and priorities of the Organization.

The invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan was extended by the Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who would Chair the CHS Meeting.

The Leaders of SCO Member and Observer States as well as representatives of important International Organizations will attend the Meeting.

A number of decisions will be approved by the Leaders, besides signing of agreements to intensify cooperation in diverse fields.

The prime minister will have bilateral interaction with other participating Leaders on the sidelines.

The SCO is among the major trans-regional organizations. Pakistan shares deep rooted historical and cultural links with SCO Member States. The SCO’s multi-sectoral cooperation agenda is in line with the government of Pakistan’s policy of promoting regional peace and stability and seeking enhanced linkages in infrastructure, economic, trade and cultural spheres. Pakistan offers critical overland route for trade and energy and supports SCO’s efforts for regional integration through linking CPEC with the six land routes of SCO.

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Since becoming an SCO member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively participating at all levels in various SCO mechanisms including Foreign Affairs, Defence, National Security, Economy and Trade, Education and Healthcare, S&T and Innovation, Youth and Women Empowerment, Justice, Agriculture, Culture& Sports, Tourism and Media.

Meanwhile talking to DND, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Bishkek Faisal Niaz Tirmizi has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kyrgyzstan will go a long way in improving the bilateral cooperation in diversified fields including trade and economy.

Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi said that it is the first visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Central Asia since he took over in August last year; therefore, it is of high significance.

Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi said that during his stay in Bishkek, the prime minister will hold bilateral meetings with 11 other Heads of States and Heads of Governments. He said that after a long time, 12 Heads of States are attending an extremely important event.

Talking about the significance of the SCO, the ambassador said that it includes eight members including Pakistan, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan whereas its four observers are Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia.

The ambassador said that the SCO has a huge population in billions. He said that three-fourth of the SCO population is under the Eurasian landmass and its economy constitutes 27% of total global Gross National Product (GNP).

Turning towards SCO’s 19th Meeting, Faisal Tirmizi said that the Council of Heads of State is the highest forum of SCO which considers and defines strategy, prospects and priorities of the Organization.

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Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi said that with his participating in the SCO meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan will present Pakistan’s view point on various regional and global issues to the World.

The envoy said that the prime minister has a vision of tourism, trade, openness, youth empowerment and connectivity; and through the SCO platform, Pakistan along with other member Countries can make joint efforts to excel in these sectors.

Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi also said that Kyrgyzstan is also interested to become part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said that Gwadar is the shortest way to reach international waters for whole Central Asia especially for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

In reply to a question, Faisal Tirmizi said that Pakistan-Kyrgyzstan bilateral trade is of just US$ 5 billion but Prime Minister Imran Khan has intended to take it to US$ 20 billion in next two years.

Faisal Tirmizi said that Kyrgyzstan has been asked to set up pharmaceutical plants in its territory, wherein Pakistani Companies will also invest. He said that though Kyrgyzstan’s market consists of only six million people but it is the member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EUU) – which includes Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia –  and its market is of almost 1,819 Crore which stretches till Poland, which is a member of the European Union (EU).

The ambassador said that in his meeting with the Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Prime Minister Imran Khan will himself extend an invitation to him for visiting Pakistan.

The envoy said that both Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan have very deep and historical relations. He said that Abu Mansur Sabuktigin, the father of Mahmood Ghazni, belonged to North Kyrgyzstan whereas the Mughal Emperor Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar was also from Osh, the South Kyrgyzstan.

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Therefore, he added that, it is a matter of great pleasure that the two Countries are getting closer to each other, and they are in pursuit to enhance their bilateral trade and social cooperation.

Furthermore, the ambassador told that a Gala Concert is also being organized in Bishkek, in which the famous Pakistani Balochi folk Akhtar Chanal Zehri will also perform.

To another question, Ambassador Faisal Tirmizi said that efforts are afoot to arrange Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sideline meetings with various Heads of States. However, he said that his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not in the pipeline yet.