Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Pakistan, I welcome you to the “Meeting of the Legal Experts Group of the SCO-RATs” in Islamabad. It is a great pleasure for me to inaugurate this session. I hope that you will be able to get a glimpse of Pakistan’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and the natural beauty of the city during your brief visit.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) holds special significance for Pakistan. We take pride in becoming a full member of the SCO last year – an organization that offers a unique new model of inter-state cooperation for peace, security, connectivity and sustainable development.
The SCO holds tremendous potential for connectivity, trade, energy and economic development. It can lead to progress and prosperity for our entire region. We look forward to bringing further vitality to this vibrant organization. With a consumer market of over 200 million people, vast business potential and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, Pakistan offers the SCO enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. Pakistan’s historical and cultural ties, as well as strong economic and strategic links with the SCO members, can act as an enabler in realizing the SCO’s vision.
Pakistan is cognizant of the threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism to our region and beyond. Having fought terrorism, we have lost thousands of our citizens and law enforcement personnel, with many more injured. We have also suffered economic losses of over US$120 billion.
But neither the human nor the financial losses have diminished my country’s resolve to fight this menace. Through our comprehensive efforts, over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, we have been able to turn the tide.
Our National Counter Extremism Policy focuses on the Rule of Law, Service Delivery, Citizens Engagement, Media Engagement, Integrated Education Reform, Reformation, Rehabilitation, Reintegration, and Renunciation of terrorism by extremist elements and Promotion of Culture as its major facets.
We now look forward to working with regional countries under the umbrella of SCO to effectively eliminate this menace from our region. In this regard, Pakistan fully supports and welcomes the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against “three evils” of terrorism, extremism and separatism.
As a new member, Pakistan would continue to complement these efforts. We support SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun “double standards”. Terrorism cannot and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.
We strongly believe that SCO-RATs is an ideal forum for exchange of views and best practices on countering terrorism and extremism. We hope that other member states can benefit from our rich experience in countering terrorism and extremism as we do from the good practices developed by other SCO members.
It is with this spirit of cooperation, I inaugurate this opening session of the Meeting of Legal Experts of the SCO-RATs. As legal Experts, yours is a particular responsibility. I hope that all participants have a wonderful stay in Islamabad and wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and blessed Ramazan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,