BISHKEK: When India prepares itself for talks to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan, it will find its neighbour prepared, as Pakistan is neither in haste nor troubled, said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit concluded in Bishkek on Friday.
The foreign minister said: “We need neither to run after anyone nor to demonstrate stubbornness. Pakistan’s approach is very realistic and well thought-out.”
In an exclusive interview with a private TV channel after the SCO summit, Mr Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi shook hands and exchanged pleasantries during their interaction on the sidelines of the summit.
Describing their meeting as a “courtesy”, FM Qureshi said there was no structured meeting. “Yes, the meeting did take place. There was a handshake and exchange of pleasantries.”
“Pakistan has said what it had to. India has not come out of its election mindset and the extreme position they had taken to influence their constituency and to keep their vote bank intact. It is still confined in that,” the minister said when asked to comment on the demand by certain quarters that Pakistan should not repeatedly invite India for talks.
He said India had to make a decision whether or not to hold bilateral talks with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues, and that Pakistan sought the dialogue to be based on equality.
“So India has to make this decision, we are neither in haste, nor troubled. When India prepares itself, it would find us prepared, but we will hold talks on the basis of equality, in a dignified manner,” he added.
Imran gives a roadmap for enhanced socio-economic cooperation among SCO member states
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Bishkek proposed an eight-pronged course of action for SCO, calling for a peaceful co-existence, regional trade, soft and infrastructure connectivity and a framework against corruption and white-collar crime among the member states. He called for reinforcement of SCO’s vision of cooperation instead of confrontation and to advance the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international levels.
Besides leaders from China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, PM Khan attended the summit at the invitation of Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov. Moreover, leaders of the countries with SCO observer status including Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia also attended the meeting, which was chaired by Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov.
In his address, the prime minister called for galvanising the Shanghai Spirit to mitigate the risks of conflict and sought early finalisation of arrangements for trade in local currencies and setting up of SCO Fund and SCO Development Bank to catalyse the trans-regional development agenda.
Mr Khan said the SCO states must synergise the various region-wide connectivity initiatives and work on complementing infrastructure connectivity with digital, cultural, tourism and academic connectivity. He proposed setting up of SCO Cultural and Tourism Corridors, clustering multiple SCO destinations into a single package. He called for promoting food security and enhancing cooperation in health and humanitarian sectors and establishing a framework to fight corruption, money laundering and other white-collar crimes.
He also called for creating SCO centres of excellence on poverty alleviation, de-radicalisation, connectivity and new technologies.
Terming Kyrgyz a pearl of SCO region for its natural beauty and rich traditions, PM Khan congratulated the country for its excellent stewardship of SCO since the historic Qingdao Summit in China last year.
Mr Khan also said Pakistan was confident that the SCO’s onward march would continue apace as Russia would take the baton as next chair.
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of President Xi’s far-sighted Belt and Road Initiative, was fast-reaching fruition. He said CPEC that entered second phase in April was destined to catalyse the creation of an integrated pan-Asian sphere of shared prosperity.
He said the world was at a crossroad, as the advent of a multi-polar global order could be seen with epicentres of economic power and growth momentum shifting eastwards.
He said Pakistan’s foreign policy outlook was anchored on the link between peace and prosperity. “We build partnerships based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and equal benefit,” he remarked.
But there were threats to open trade and innovation in the form of terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance, he said, adding that Islamophobia was threatening to accentuate religious fault lines. Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation, he said.
Terming the evolving situation in the Gulf and Middle East a matter of concern, Mr Khan urged the parties to exercise restraint, take steps to deescalate the tension and find solutions through diplomatic means.
He said Pakistan supported Afghan peace efforts and appreciated the positive contributions being made by China, Russia and Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours in this regard. He also underscored the need for SCO’s support for post-conflict Afghanistan.
Enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia, however, would remain elusive until regional focus was shifted from confrontation to cooperation, the PM said.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated: “Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Xi had a constructive meeting covering all areas of strategic importance. We are on the same page on most international and regional issues and are committed to building a Pakistan China Community of Shared Future in the New Era.”
On the sidelines of the meeting, Pakistan signed three agreements to promote education, health and cultural activities among the member states during meetings of the head of states, according to the foreign minister.
FM Qureshi said that Pakistan would import 1,000 megawatt electricity from Kyrgyzstan by 2021 to overcome power shortage in summer. Besides, he said, PM Khan also held talks with the Kyrgyz president on early completion of the CASA-1000 project, which would start from Kyrgyzstan and reach Afghanistan through Tajikistan and onward to Pakistan.
During his informal discussion with Russian President Viladimir Putin, Mr Khan discussed with him resolution of Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, Mr Qureshi told the media.
The PM, he said, had also a bilateral meeting with President of Belarus where both the leadership agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in agriculture, industry and technology.
Earlier, the SCO member states resolved to accelerate efforts to promote socio-economic and anti-corruption cooperation as well as to introduce use of local currencies in mutual financial transactions and settlements.
They expressed their resolve to promote cooperation in politics, security, trade and economy including finance, investment, transport, energy and agriculture as well as development of intra-SCO cultural and humanitarian ties.
According to a statement issued by the SCO secretariat, the member states reiterated their resolve to pursue the objectives of the SCO charter and the Shanghai Spirit embodying mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and mutual consultations.
They reaffirmed the SCO member states’ commitment to enhancing the central coordinating role of the UN and its Security Council in maintaining international peace and security under the UN Charter. In this context, they noted the intentions of India, Kyrgyz, Pakistan and Tajikistan to be elected as rotating members of the UN Security Council, as well as the intentions of Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan to be elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
The member states condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and urged the international community to strengthen global cooperation in efforts against terrorism under the UN’s central role by implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions and the UN global counter-terrorism strategy in line with the UN charter and the principles of international law, without politicisation and double standards.
The SCO member states emphasised on unacceptability of interfering in the domestic affairs of states under the pretext of countering terrorism and extremism as well as using terrorist, extremist and radical groups for mercenary purposes.
The leaders considered it necessary to ensure earliest possible enactment of a protocol on security guarantees to the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty for all signatory states.
They emphasised attempts to ensure one country’s security at the expense of other countries’ security would be unacceptable and noted that the unilateral and unlimited build up of missile defence systems by certain countries or groups of states was detrimental to international security and a destabilising factor in the world.
The SCO states noted the importance of keeping outer space free from weapons and the importance of complying with the regulatory-legal framework that stipulates the exclusively peaceful use of outer space. They called for unfailingly honouring the convention on the prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons and on their destruction.
They also resolved to step up joint efforts to fight the narcotic drug threat.
The SCO member states expressed their willingness to facilitate a political settlement under guidance of the Afghan people and with their involvement on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the SCO’s Afghanistan contact group.
They also emphasised on implementation of the joint comprehensive plan of action regarding the Iranian nuclear programme under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that calls on all the parties to fulfil their obligations unfailingly.
Referring to the situation in Syria, they underscored the need for a common position, noting that there is no alternative to resolving the situation through dialogue while ensuring Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
According to the SCO statement, the creation of a broad, open, mutually beneficial and equitable partnership within the SCO space, based on merging the respective potential of the region’s countries, international organisations and multilateral associations, was identified as a promising objective. Full potential of SCO Business Council, Inter-Bank Consortium and SCO Youth Council will be used to accomplish this.
The member states including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reaffirmed their support for China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Besides heads of the states, SCO secretary-general Vladimir Norov and SCO regional anti-terrorist structure executive committee director Jumakhon Giyosov as well as UN under-secretary-general Rosemary A. DiCarlo also attended the summit.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019