ADDRESS BY FOREIGN MINISTER MAKHDOOM SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI AT SCO COUNCIL OF FOREIGN MINISTERS.

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Your Excellency,
Chingiz Azamato-vich Aidarbekov,
Foreign Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic,
Distinguished Colleagues from SCO Member
& Observer States,
Your Excellency,

Vladimir Norov, Secretary General SCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is again a great privilege to join colleagues from SCO Member and Observer States in this beautiful city of Bishkek.

I am grateful to our hosts for their warm reception and gracious hospitality.

I congratulate the Kyrgyz Republic for the able stewardship of SCO as Chair since the Qingdao Summit last year.

We welcome incoming Secretary General His Excellency Vladimir Norov, and Director Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, Mr. Jumakhon Giyosov. I wish them success in their important new positions.

Excellencies,

Our leaderships will be meeting next month to take stock of a global dynamic where forces of populism and protectionism are ascendant, and challenges to sustainable growth, the environment, and our collective security are assuming global proportions.

The response, we believe, lies in collective endeavours and coordinated approaches.

The SCO, we believe, provides an excellent platform for effective action.

Representing 42% of humanity, 23% of world’s land mass, and some 22% of global nominal GDP, and imbued with the “Shanghai Spirit,” SCO indeed shows the way forward.
Excellencies,

For millennia, the SCO heartlands have been epicenters of civilization. Pakistan itself is the product of centuries of amalgamation of foreign and local influences.

We envision Pakistan’s future firmly embedded in an integrated Pan-Asian sphere of shared prosperity represented here.

A vision that is fast reaching fruition in the shape of the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s far-sighted Belt and Road Initiative.

Our geography affords the vital air, land and sea nodes and corridors connecting South with Central Asia, the Middle East with China, Europe with the Far East, and Eurasia with the Sea.

Excellencies,

Terrorism is the bane of our times. We condemn it in all forms and manifestations including State terrorism against people under illegal occupation.

We appreciate the practical cooperation taking place on this matter under the SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure. As one of the few countries to have successfully fought and reversed the tide of terrorism and extremism, Pakistan stands ready to share its experience and expertise with friends in SCO through the Structure.

Remembering the old adage, that if you want to have peace, work for justice, it is equally important to address the root causes of terrorism.

Excellencies,

Afghanistan remains central to our efforts to forge lasting regional stability. We have consistently called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of dialogue and reconciliation, as the only viable way forward.

It is a matter of satisfaction that a dialogue process to promote peace and reconciliation has taken hold.

Going forward, we hope, it would expand to involve the broader array of Afghan interests and actors.

Pakistan will continue to facilitate the process, and hope others too, would support it, as part of a shared responsibility.
Excellencies,

South Asia, now a part and parcel of SCO, lags behind other regions in terms of regional cooperation, economic integration and connectivity. It continues to be held back by formidable challenges relating to the human condition, namely poverty, illiteracy and disease.

Political differences and unresolved disputes further compound the predicament.

It is our firm belief that enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive without good-faith diplomacy and result-oriented dialogue.

We have commenced work on the Kartarpur Corridor that will facilitate pilgrimage of Sikh yatrees to one of holiest shrines of Sikhism in Pakistan.

The “Shanghai Spirit” is being reinforced through the “Kartarpur Spirit.”

Excellencies,

I wish to submit a seven-point agenda to help sustain SCO’s high momentum:

FIRST: Expand the scope of SCO institutional framework to include alternate dispute resolution and confidence building mechanisms among Member States. It was in Bishkek Your Excellencies would recall, that the Treaty on Good-Neighbourly Relations, Friendship and Cooperation was concluded in 2007.

SECOND: Develop a regional consensus on arresting build up of missile defence systems by individual States or groups of States, and on keeping outer space free of weapons.

THIRD: Work on establishment of SCO Development Fund and SCO Development Bank. And finalize proposals for trade in local currencies.

FOURTH: Take the lead in evolving a more comprehensive international framework of cooperation to combat corruption and white collar crime.

FIFTH: Launch a more concerted effort to combat production, supply, trafficking and demand for illicit drugs.

SIXTH: Leverage SCO’s institutional capacity to synergize the various connectivity initiatives and ensure maximum impact. I am referring to the Belt and Road Initiative, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Eurasian Economic Union.

SEVENTH: Strengthen the SCO Youth Council by focusing on promoting cultural understanding, academic excellence and skills acquisition among our youth. Pakistan looks forward to joining the Council soon.
Excellencies,

As SCO’s global influence and profile rises, so do the hopes and expectations of the billions under its sway.

We have laid the groundwork.
It is time to build higher the edifice of cooperation.
Thank You.

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