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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Wednesday called for shunning double standards in the fight against terrorism and pledged stronger cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in eliminating terrorism.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a meeting of Legal Experts Group of the SCO-RATS, the foreign secretary said: “We support SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun double standards.”

Uzbekistan-based Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is a permanent organ of the SCO. RATS provides for promoting cooperation among member states against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Pakistan joined the SCO last year. This SCO-RATS event is the first that Pakistan is hosting after entering the bloc.

India among countries represented at SCO event

Besides host Pakistan, legal experts from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and representatives of the SCO-RATS Executive Committee are participating in the moot. The legal experts will discuss terror threats facing the region and ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO member states.

Ms Janjua further emphasised: “Terrorism cannot and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities”.

The foreign secretary recalled Pakistan’s own fight against terrorism and mentioned the losses suffered by the country. She said that about 60,000 people were believed to have lost their lives due to terrorist attacks and economic losses had been valued at $120 billion.

“But neither the human nor the financial losses have diminished my country’s resolve to fight this menace. Through our comprehensive efforts, over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, we have been able to turn the tide,” Ms Janjua said.

She mentioned salient features of the National Counter Extremism Policy, which according to her, included rule of law, service delivery, citizens engagement, media engagement, integrated education reform, reformation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and renunciation of terrorism by extremist elements and promotion of culture.

“We now look forward to working with regional countries under the umbrella of SCO to effectively eliminate this menace from our region. In this regard, Pakistan fully supports and welcomes efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against three evils of terrorism, extremism and separatism,” the foreign secretary said.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2018