ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said all member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) still face multifaceted challenges of poverty, food security and climate change, which could be resolved through an inclusive approach.
In his virtual address to leaders at the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting held in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur Sultan on Thursday, the foreign minister said the focus of the SCO on Cooperation and Conflict Resolution offered hope to humanity.
The following is the full statement by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the SCO Council of Heads of Government which was held in virtual format on November 25, 2021;
“Excellency Mr. Askar Mamin,
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Honorable Heads of Government of SCO Member States and Observers,
Secretary General Mr. Vladimir Norov
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honored to address this august assembly of leaders and colleagues from SCO Member States.
I convey to you the warm wishes of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the progress and prosperity of the peoples of the SCO region.
As an integrated regional organization, the SCO is of particular importance within the international community. In a world increasingly characterized by polarization and isolationist politics, the SCO’s emphasis on cooperation and conflict resolution offers hope to humanity.
The SCO offers an attractive model for interstate cooperation in various fields, including economics, security, connectivity and sustainable development. It is a model of shared growth, of shared prosperity.
This year’s Summit marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the SCO. This situation offers us the opportunity to take stock and collectively chart the way forward for the peace and progress of our region.
In Dushanbe, the heads of state and government of the SCO reaffirmed their “unwavering adherence” to the principles of equality, respect for the right to choose the path of political, economic, social and cultural development, the promotion of dialogue between civilizations as well as the pursuit of peace, progress and harmony in the SCO region.
SCO leaders also affirmed the need to enhance growth and prosperity through the implementation of the socio-economic development cooperation matrix.
The Dushanbe Declaration builds on previous iterations of SCO leaders in Moscow, Bishkek and Qingdao.
Regional security is essential to the realization of our collective vision for the prosperity and economic growth of our region.
In this context, stability in Afghanistan is of crucial importance to all of us because of our geographic constraints and our enduring ties with the Afghan people.
Over the past few months, Afghanistan has undergone a fundamental transformation. The Afghan people today face critical economic and humanitarian challenges.
The international community must engage constructively to alleviate the suffering of Afghans.
Pakistan continues to assist its Afghan brethren in times of need, among other things, contributing to the socio-economic development of Afghanistan by supporting health, education and training, improving transit trade facilities for goods. from Afghanistan and abolishing tariffs on Afghan goods. .
With regard to Afghanistan, we are also continuing the dialogue with our international and regional partners. More recently, we organized a Troika Plus meeting and participated in ministerial-level meetings of Afghanistan’s neighbors in Tehran and Islamabad.
We will continue to work with Afghanistan, bilaterally and in collaboration with partners, to promote the values of inclusion, respect for the rights of all Afghans and ensure that Afghan soil is never used by terrorists against a country.
Pakistan will continue to support a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan that substantially contributes to peace, progress and prosperity in the region.
Our agenda today focuses on practical steps that would foster our collective desire to make further progress in the economic, trade and humanitarian spheres.
I would like to reiterate our full commitment to the efforts under the auspices of the SCO to strengthen regional cooperation comprehensively.
Performing one of its important functions, the Council of Heads of Government would approve the SCO budget and the new staff structure of the two standing bodies for the cycle starting in 2022.
Pakistan supports the proposal to increase the number of members of the Secretariat and the Executive Committee from five to six at present. We also support the proposed budget for 2022 with an increase of around ten percent.
We believe that the SCO Member States’ Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Program is an important matrix for cooperation in various and important areas. It defines important objectives in the short, medium and long term.
We also believe that continued progress in the implementation of the program at all levels will greatly contribute to the achievement of our common goals of sustained economic growth through improved intra-regional connectivity. Pakistan is keen to play a dynamic role in this endeavor.
All SCO member states, despite their different stages of economic development, still face poverty, food security and threats posed by climate change. These multifaceted challenges can only be met through an inclusive approach.
Pakistan has a wealth of experience in launching successful initiatives to reduce poverty. We are confident that Pakistan’s proposed Ad Hoc Poverty Reduction Working Group will provide a useful platform for the exchange of ideas and the sharing of experiences in this area which is of crucial importance to all SCO member states.
Being a predominantly agrarian economy, Pakistan is no stranger to the effects of climate change on food production and supply. Ensuring food security for growing populations is a global challenge today.
In response to this challenge, SCO leaders adopted the Joint Declaration on “Food Security” at the Dushanbe Summit.
We also welcome the initiatives in the area of “smart” agriculture and the introduction of agro-innovation and support measures aimed at ensuring an uninterrupted flow of agro-industrial products to maintain food security and safety. socio-economic stability in the SCO region.
The private sector is the engine of growth in any economy. Initiatives to connect important segments of the private sector in Member States create lasting bonds and connect the peoples of our region.
To this end, SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association are important mechanisms for promoting cooperation in the business and economic sectors.
We would like to see increased interaction between Business Council members and entrepreneurs in the SCO region.
Meaningful interaction among the peoples of the SCO region can be best facilitated when there are effective, reliable and lasting connectivity links between member states.
Pakistan has consistently drawn attention to this critical aspect. To advance this common goal, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a conference on “Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity” that Pakistan will host in the second half of 2022.
Likewise, another very important aspect that Pakistan has focused on is youth empowerment, for which we will be holding a conference on “Youth empowerment through digital economy” in 2022, as announced by the Prime Minister Imran Khan in Dushanbe.
In addition, Pakistan will implement other initiatives that will promote the work of the SCO to connect businessmen and entrepreneurs as well as bring together women parliamentarians from the SCO region in 2022. .
I conclude by reaffirming Pakistan’s strong commitment to continue to advance the goals and objectives of the SCO. This stems from our unwavering faith in multilateralism as the most effective way to meet challenges and seize opportunities.
Thank you for your attention.