ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that all member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) still faced multifaceted challenges of poverty, food security, and climate change, which could be addressed through an inclusive approach.
In his virtual address to the leaders at the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting held in Kazakhstan’s Capital Nur Sultan on Thursday, the foreign minister said that SCO’s emphasis on cooperation and conflict resolution offered hope to humanity.
“Excellency Mr. Askar Mamin,
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Honorable Heads of Government of SCO Member States and Observers,
Secretary General Mr. Vladimir Norov
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to address this august gathering of Leaders and colleagues from SCO Member States.
I bring to you warm wishes from Prime Minister Imran Khan for the progress and prosperity of the peoples of SCO region.
As an integrated regional organization, SCO holds special significance in the international community. In a world increasingly characterized by polarization and isolationist policies, SCO’s emphasis on cooperation and conflict resolution offers hope to humanity.
SCO provides an attractive model for inter-state cooperation in diverse fields including economy, security, connectivity and sustainable development. It is a model of shared growth, for shared prosperity.
This year’s Summit marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of SCO. This juncture offers us an opportunity of stocktaking and collectively charting the future course for peace and progress of our region.
In Dushanbe, SCO Heads of State and Government had reaffirmed their ‘unwavering adherence’ to the principles of equality, respect for the right to choose political, economic, social and cultural development path, promotion of inter-civilizational dialogue as well as pursuit of peace, progress and harmony in the SCO region.
SCO leaders had also affirmed the need to strengthen growth and prosperity through implementation of the socio-economic development cooperation matrix.
The Dushanbe Declaration builds upon the previous iterations of SCO leaders in Moscow, Bishkek and Qingdao.
Regional security is a must for realization of our collective vision for prosperity and economic growth of our region.
In this context, stability in Afghanistan is of critical importance for all of us owing to our geographic compulsions and our enduring ties to the people of Afghanistan.
In the last few months, Afghanistan has undergone a fundamental transformation. Afghan people, today, face critical economic and humanitarian challenges.
The international community needs to engage constructively to mitigate the sufferings of Afghans.
Pakistan continues to assist its Afghan brethren in their hour of need by, inter-alia, contributing towards Afghanistan’s socio-economic development through support in health, education and training, enhancing transit trade facilities for goods from Afghanistan and abolition of tariff on Afghan goods.
In regard to Afghanistan, we also continue to engage with our international and regional partners. Most recently, we hosted a meeting of the Troika Plus and participated in Ministerial level meetings of neighbors of Afghanistan in Tehran and Islamabad.
We will continue to work with Afghanistan, bilaterally and in collaboration with partners, to promote the values of inclusiveness, respect for the rights of all Afghans and ensuring that Afghan soil will never be used by terrorists against any country.
Pakistan will continue to support a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan that substantially contributes to regional peace, progress and prosperity.
Our agenda today focuses on practical steps that would further our collective desire for greater progress in economic, trade and humanitarian spheres.
I would like to reiterate our full commitment to efforts under the SCO umbrella to enhance regional cooperation in a comprehensive manner.
Exercising one of its important functions, the Council of Heads of Government would be approving the budget of the SCO and the new staff structure for the two permanent bodies for the cycle beginning in 2022.
Pakistan supports the proposal for increasing the number of Deputies in the Secretariat and the Executive Committee from the current five to six. We also support the budget proposed for 2022 with an increase of approximately ten percent.
We believe the Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of SCO Member States is an important matrix for cooperation across diverse and important areas. It sets out important goals in the short, medium and long term.
We also believe that steady progress in the implementation of the Programme across-the-board will go a long way in achieving our shared objectives of sustained economic growth through enhanced intra-regional connectivity. Pakistan is keen to play a dynamic role in this endeavor.
All SCO Member States, despite their varied stages of economic development, are still faced with poverty, food security and threats posed by Climate Change. These multifaceted challenges can only be addressed through an inclusive approach.
Pakistan has rich experience in launching successful initiatives to alleviate poverty. We are confident that the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation that Pakistan has proposed will provide a useful platform for exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences in this area which is of crucial importance for all SCO Member States.
Being a predominantly agrarian economy, Pakistan is no stranger to effects of Climate Change on food production and supply. Ensuring food security for growing populations is a global challenge today.
Responding to this challenge, SCO leaders had adopted the joint statement on ‘Food Security’ at the Dushanbe Summit.
We also welcome initiatives in the field of “Smart” Agriculture and the Introduction of Agro-Innovation and support measures aimed at ensuring uninterrupted flow of agro-industrial products to maintain food security and socio-economic stability within the SCO region.
Private sector is the engine of growth for any economy. Initiatives aimed at connecting important segments in the private sectors of Member States create sustained linkages and connect the peoples in our region.
Towards this end, SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association are important mechanisms to promote cooperation in commercial and economic sectors.
We would like to see enhanced interaction among members of the Business Council, and entrepreneurs from the SCO region.
Meaningful interaction among the peoples of SCO region can best be facilitated when there are efficient, reliable and sustained connectivity links among the Member States.
Pakistan has consistently drawn attention towards this critical aspect. To take this shared objective forward, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a conference on ‘Transport connectivity for regional prosperity’ which Pakistan will be hosting in the second half of 2022.
Similarly, another highly important aspect that Pakistan has focused on, pertains to the empowerment of youth, for which we will host a conference on ‘Youth Empowerment through Digital Economy’ in 2022, as announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Dushanbe.
In addition, Pakistan will be taking forward other initiatives that will promote SCO’s work in connecting businesspersons and entrepreneurs as well as bringing together women parliamentarians of the SCO region in 2022.
I conclude by reaffirming Pakistan’s resolute commitment to continue to advance SCO’s goals and objectives. This stems from our unshakable belief in multilateralism as the most effective way to address challenges and realize opportunities.
I thank you for your attention.”