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ISLAMABAD, Aug 28: Speakers at a conference on Wednesday said Pakistan fulfilled the criteria to become the member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

“Pakistans role in Afghanistan, its promise as a prospective energy and trade corridor for the region, its close strategic and economic ties with China and growing relations with Russia are some of the factors favouring its claim to full membership of SCO,” they said.

The conference ‘SCOs role in regional stability – Prospects of its Expansion’ is being hosted by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in collaboration with Germanys Hans Seidel Foundation. National and international experts on foreign affairs are participating in the conference.

IPRI president Sohail Amin in his opening remarks described SCO as an effective instrument in regional stability.

He said Pakistans concerns were the same as the SCO’s.

He underlined the importance of the conference saying it heralded the SCO summit that was only two weeks away from now.

Hanns Seidel Foundation’s (HSF) director Christian Hegemer said the expanded SCO would represent half the world’s population making it the biggest regional body in that respect.

Former secretary general foreign affairs Akram Zaki, who was the chief guest, expressed the hope that Pakistans case for full membership of SCO was almost finalised as both China and Russia supported its candidature.

“The question now is whether the expanded SCO will help in resolving the explosive hotspots in Asia like Afghanistan and Kashmir?” he asked.

And could the Gwadar Port become functional without stabilising Afghanistan, Fata and Balochistan? he posed a question.

He said that without peace and stability, Pakistans goal to become the energy and trade corridor of the region could not be achieved.

Dr Saifur Rahman of the National Defence University presented the case for Pakistans membership and listed the benefits SCO would gain from Pakistans participation.

Dr Zafar Nawaz of the Quaid-i-Azam University emphasized the need for defence collaboration among SCO members without which the organisation would not be able to play an effective role in regional stability.