ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the key to unlock the geo-economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region lies in greater connectivity among member states and proposed transition to national currencies by setting up SCO Development Bank.
Mr Qureshi is in Dushanbe to participate in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
Speaking at a meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, Mr Qureshi said the collective vision of SCO would reach fruition through effective inter-SCO collaboration in connectivity and development of transport links through air, road and sea.
SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov, Director of Executive Committee on SCO Regional Anti-Terrorists Structures Jumakhon Giyasov, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin and other foreign ministers of SCO member states participated in the meeting.
Holds talks with Tajik president, Russian counterpart on the margins of SCO meeting
The foreign minister said that Pakistan viewed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian heartland that brought together nearly 44 per cent of global population, a quarter of global GDP, and three-fifths of the total Eurasian territory.
During Covid-19, he said, the SCO member states rose to counter the challenge and especially China and Russia played an important role in this regard.
He said in order to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, Pakistan supported initiatives of e-commerce, digital economies, sharing of experiences and practices in innovation and new technologies.
On regional security, he said, SCO-led mechanisms had resulted in significant success in dealing with the common challenges of terrorism, separatism, extremism, illicit trafficking of drugs, as well as transnational organised crime.
He said that stability and peace in Afghanistan had a bearing on regional security in the SCO space.
As a shared responsibility, he said, Pakistan had played its part in facilitating the peace process aimed at forging a comprehensive, broad-based and inclusive, negotiated political solution that was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
He expressed serious concern over the unfolding situation in the wake of withdrawal of US and Nato troops and in the absence of a peace deal.
A specter of chaos and escalated conflict loomed large that would also give space to the spoilers who wished to see the reign of instability in Afghanistan and the region, he said. He called upon all Afghan parties to engage constructively and work for a negotiated political solution.
He suggested the SCO family to focus on collective economic development, promote business partnerships and empowerment of women in different walks of life.
Mr Qureshi also proposed establishment of SCO women entrepreneurs forum as a platform to bring together women in business, trade and creative arts to forge a strong SCO identity. He called for constituting a women parliamentarians caucus from SCO countries.
Relations with Russia
Mr Qureshi met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of SCO meeting and expressed commitment to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields.
In the meeting, the two sides reviewed the implementation status of the decisions taken during Russian foreign minister’s visit to Pakistan in April this year.
It was agreed to work closely to further strengthen bilateral relations in all spheres, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The regional security situation, particularly Afghanistan, also came under discussion.
Mr Qureshi briefed his Russian counterpart on Pakistan’s approach towards the Afghan peace process.
Reiterating continued support, Mr Qureshi emphasised close coordination between the two countries to help achieve negotiated political settlement.
Besides, Mr Qureshi met Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon and expressed Pakistan’s desire to strengthen relations with the Central Asian state in diverse fields.
During the meeting along with other foreign ministers from the SCO countries, Mr Qureshi congratulated the Tajik president on successful stewardship of SCO.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2021