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FM Qureshi says SCO ‘more than just a regional platform’

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi delivered a statement at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) 17th Council of Heads of Government in Dushanbe on Friday, in which he recalled Pakistan’s “largest and most effective counter-terrorism operations” in recent years and offered to share the country’s expertise in combatting terrorism through the ‘SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure’.

Speaking during the meeting, attended by representatives of the permanent members of the organisation, FM Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s support for the SCO charter.

He said that more than just a regional platform, the SCO was a “fulcrum representing the hopes, the aspirations, the dreams and the expectations of nearly half of humanity”.

Qureshi said that the world was in a “state of flux” and a “global architecture for peace, security and development, that treats all sovereign states on the footings of equality and respect” was required.

“By subscribing to these principles, [the] SCO presages such an architecture,” he said.

The foreign minister also reiterated Pakistan’s previous proposal for the establishment of SCO-Pakistan corridors for trade, transit and energy.

During the Council’s meeting, FM Qureshi said that peace and security in Afghanistan were essential for stability in the region and said Pakistan supported the organisation’s contact group on Afghanistan, hoping to see them contribute “more effectively” for peace and stability in the country.

Qureshi also thanked the SCO secretariat for facilitating Pakistan’s induction into the organisation’s programmes and processes.

“We are happy to note that in addition to finalising financial arrangements, this meeting will conclude significant understandings on trade, scientific collaboration, environmental protection and food security, among others.”

In his address, Qureshi also offered suggestions to build upon the momentum the organisation had generated so far.

These suggestions included an SCO-wide mechanism to conduct trade and adopt a long-term view on development projects that would benefit the whole region.

“The Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor [CPEC] merit the SCO’s full support,” Qureshi said.

He added that lessons could be learnt from within the SCO community on issues such as eradicating poverty and fast-tracking development.

FM Qureshi further proposed that an “SCO wide visa regime” for business individuals could promote “intra-regional and trans-regional contracts”.

He also suggested exploring the feasibility of a “joint SCO airline”.

Qureshi added that organisation should “open up more meaningfully to observers and dialogue partners” and the capabilities of the youth should be utilised.

The foreign minister expressed his gratitude to the chairman of the council as well as the Tajik Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda and the people of Tajikistan for their hospitality.

“Tajikistan is Pakistan’s close neighbour, a good friend and a dear brother. The bonds of kith and clan and culture and commerce tie the Tajik and Pakistani nations in an abiding relationship,” he said in conclusion.

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