Global efforts needed to fight Covid: PM

Updated 11 Nov 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a virtual meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's Council of Heads of State. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a virtual meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's Council of Heads of State. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said coordinated global efforts were needed to combat Covid-19 and tackle adverse impact of climate change, money laundering and Islamophobia. He also stressed the need for cooperation in education, international peace and debt relief.

The prime minister presented these proposals while speaking via video link at the 20th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Heads of State. He said joint efforts were imperative to combat the deadly virus that had killed over 1.2 million people and wrecked the world economy. He presented specific proposals aimed at galvanising mutually-beneficial and result-oriented efforts through the SCO platform.

“We should create an SCO knowledge-bank of best practices to fight Covid-19 in order to guide us through the second wave and beyond,” the prime minister said, adding that a strategy and an action plan should also be worked out to mitigate the adverse economic impact of the pandemic in the short-, medium- and long-term. He said the Covid-19 vaccine should be affordable and accessible to all.

Attends SCO summit via video link, presents proposals to tackle climate change, money laundering

The prime minister further proposed that “we should call for more measures by G20 to meet common challenges like climate change, deteriorating environment, widening inequality within and among nations, poverty, disease, hunger and sustainable development”, and to stop financial outflows from developing nations to offshore bank accounts in rich countries.

About education, Mr Khan said a multi-year SCO Youth Strategy should be formulated with a focus on building partnerships among educational institutions, offering scholarships and exchange programmes for youth in the scientific field.

Highlighting the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus, the prime minister said humanity faced the possibility of a slow recovery and a prolonged economic slump with rising poverty and inequality.

“Under the circumstances, the imperative of a common approach to limit the spread of infectious diseases, reduce the effects and develop potential remedies has increased manifold. Yet global harmony and multilateralism are undermined by rising geopolitical tensions, unilateralism and isolationism,” he added.

PM Khan lauded the SCO’s call for “effective multilateralism” and expressed the belief that the forum, with its “core principles of solidarity and mutual support, would be effective in combating the effects of Covid-19”.

He praised China for its “effective handling” of the virus as well as its assistance to other countries, including Pakistan, to cope with the health crisis, adding that his country was collaborating with Beijing in vaccine development with phase-III trials successfully under way.

He acknowledged the steps taken on a global scale to help vulnerable countries, including provision of debt relief by the G20 countries, but said more needed to be done.

Without naming any country, Prime Minister Khan called for “faithfully implementing UN Security Council resolutions for peaceful solution to outstanding disputes”, and said “unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories [...] adversely affect regional environment”.

He reiterated that the Afghan conflict did not have a military solution and the best way forward was a negotiated political arrangement, adding that Pakistan supported an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”.

Prime Minister Khan congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin for successfully leading the SCO during these extremely troubled times and also welcomed Tajikistan as the next chair of the organisation, assuring them of his support.

He proposed a ‘Global Initiative for Debt Relief’ to address debt vulnerabilities of the developing nations and to help create fiscal space for them to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 and achieve sustainable development.

He said the SCO was destined to play a pivotal role in the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Eurasian Economic Union, adding that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of BRI, was poised to play a vital part in this regard.

For international peace, Mr Khan said he strongly supported the central role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security and advancing global sustainable development. “We stress the importance of faithfully implementing UN Security Council resolutions for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes to create an environment of stability and cooperation,” he added.

On the Iranian nuclear issue, the prime minister supported the SCO’s call for effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and said the overarching goal of the international security architecture should be the promotion of equal and undiminished security of all states.

Mr Khan said Pakistan had been at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism and believed that it was wrong to use terrorism-related allegations as a political tool to malign and target any country, religion or race. “We must also continue to steadfastly oppose extremist and xenophobic tendencies, including racist ideologies inspired by neo-Nazism and Islamophobia,” he added.

Mr Khan said fighting corruption and economic crimes was another important area of focus of his government. “We must firmly oppose illicit financial flows from developing countries, which impoverish these nations and severely retard their development endeavours,” he added.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2020