His Excellency Mr. Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russian Federation
Excellencies Foreign Ministers of SCO Member States,
Excellency Mr. Vladimir Norov, SCO Secretary General,
Distinguished colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to join all of you today in the historic and beautiful city of Moscow.
It is heartening to see that our countries are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to have this meeting in-person. I am grateful to Foreign Minister Lavrov for hosting this CFM, and for the gracious hospitality.
While COVID-19 Pandemic has devastated lives and livelihoods of people across the world, it has also underscored the imperative of working together against common threats and challenges.
Despite the formidable difficulties, we have continued fruitful collaboration in SCO, marked by solidarity and mutual support, under the able stewardship of Russian Federation.
As SCO celebrates 20 years of its establishment, we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to showcase the real potential of SCO in fostering regional cooperation.
The virtual meetings of SCO Foreign Ministers and Health Ministers, in May and July 2020, highlighted the need for decisive, coordinated and inclusive multilateral efforts to fight the pandemic, foremost through the coordinating role of the United Nations system, in particular WHO.
We salute the healthcare professionals, scientists and researchers who are at the vanguard of this valiant struggle.
On its part, Pakistan is open to share its experience in combating the pandemic in an effective manner keeping the total cases and fatalities relatively low.
Pakistan deeply appreciates China’s very effective handling of the crisis and assisting the international community, including Pakistan, with material and technical support.
We believe it is equally essential to counter the pandemic’s negative economic impact. With this in mind, Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed “Global Initiative for Debt Relief” for developing countries to mitigate the adverse economic repercussions.
We also believe it is wrong to politicize the pandemic and use it for stigmatizing regions, religions or communities.
Pakistan joins other SCO partners in reiterating the centrality of the “Shanghai Spirit” and the indispensability of the core principles and standards of international law in conducting international relations.
The world today is becoming increasingly multi polar. The competition between the old and emerging powers is already reshaping the contours of contemporary international relations.
As expected, this is not a smooth process. The intensifying contest between the forces of multilateralism, globalization and shared development on one side and unilateralism, isolationism and protectionism on the other has created a lot of uncertainty.
It is our firm belief that in this uncertain and brutally competitive environment that is full of zero-sum prophecies, cooperation and not confrontation should be the driving force in international politics. In this context, multilateral platforms like SCO exist as a beacon of hope.
On the 75th Anniversary of establishment of the United Nations, we strongly support SCO’s emphasis on the central role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security and advancing global development.
We also reaffirm our principled position that the reform of the UN Security Council should be achieved through consensus for a more representative, democratic, effective and accountable Security Council.
Peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes is a pre-requisite for achieving development, economic growth, poverty alleviation and social uplift of our masses.
In this context, we strongly emphasize the importance of faithfully implementing UN Security Council Resolutions.
We must strongly condemn and oppose any unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions.
Such unilateral measures run counter to our shared objective of creating a regional environment of amity and cooperation and these must be opposed resolutely.
A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is central to peace and stability in the region and beyond.
Pakistan has long held that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political settlement is the only way forward.
As a shared responsibility, Pakistan has assiduously supported the efforts for a peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
The U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement is a significant step forward in this direction.
We believe the Afghan stakeholders must now seize this historic opportunity and work together to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.
It is critical that the Intra-Afghan negotiations commence at the earliest.
At the same time, it is imperative to be cognizant of the role of “spoilers” — within and outside –who do not want peace and stability to return to Afghanistan.
The intra-Afghan negotiations process will not be without challenges.
Single-minded focus, patience and perseverance, and unflinching commitment will be indispensable for a successful outcome.
We also believe the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour should be an essential part of the peace negotiations.
We look forward to consultations in the SCO-Afghan Contact Group to further facilitate the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
While tackling terrorism and extremism continues to be one of our highest priorities, we must not allow any country to use terrorism related allegations as a political tool to malign and victimize any country, religion or race.
We must also condemn and hold accountable the perpetrators of State terrorism against people under illegal occupation in disputed territories.
As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of victory against fascism, militarism and violent nationalism, we must affirm that extremist as well as xenophobic ideologies, including Islamophobia, have no place in today’s world.
We share the stance of our SCO partners on effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iranian nuclear issue.
We believe that discussions in SCO on prevention of arms race in outer space, Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and ensuring International Information Security, will enrich the debate and allow us to have a unified stance on these issues.
There is an urgent need for new legal regimes to deal with emerging challenges in arms control and disarmament.
SCO is a vital platform for forging closer synergy with regional partners and realizing the benefits of the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of BRI, supplements SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration.
With its network of infrastructure and energy projects and industrial parks, CPEC is destined to bring economic prosperity for Pakistan, and the region and beyond. In particular, Special Economic Zones under CPEC offer excellent incentives for investment.
We should not view development projects, including BRI and CPEC, through myopic geopolitical angles and should give them our full support.
Socio-economic development is another important area of focus in SCO. Pakistan, with its rich experience in poverty alleviation initiatives, has proposed establishment of an SCO Joint Working and SCO Center of Excellence on Poverty Alleviation. We thank all member states for your support.
I would also like to express our delight on becoming the newest member of the SCO Youth Council. We look forward to actively participating in it.
Over the past 20 years, SCO has grown tremendously in stature, prestige and influence.
We will continue to actively promote cooperation in the ever-expanding and diverse range of sectors through SCO.
In this connection, I would like to make the following recommendations:
Firstly, SCO members should work together to address the resurgence of fascist ideologies and violent nationalism anywhere in the world especially in our region.
Secondly, SCO should focus on promoting regional connectivity projects. We must not view these projects through a narrow political prism but rather whole-heartedly pursue them for the achievement of sustainable development in the region.
Thirdly, we must pool our scientific and technical resources to carry out joint research in diverse fields, foremost with an objective to find an effective vaccine for the COVID-19 virus and make it accessible to all as a global public good.
Finally, we should work together to project SCO as an effective forum for regional development and a new kind of international organization based on the ideals of “Shanghai spirit”.
I wish this meeting all the success.