Islamabad July 4 2023: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday called for a joint action by the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to address the common challenges of economic recession, terrorism, and climate change.
“The SCO represents a promising future only if we seize the opportunity to achieve the shared goals for the region’s peace and prosperity,” he said in his virtual address to the 23rd Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS).
The invitation to Prime Minister Sharif to attend the SCO-CHS, which was held in a video conference format, was extended by the prime minister of India in his capacity as the current Chair of the SCO. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi joined the virtual moot among other leaders of the observer states.
PM Sharif said the SCO leaders were meeting at a critical juncture as the world faced socio-economic challenges. He stressed that the regional organization could play the role of “beacon of peace, stability, and progress”.
Terming regional connectivity a defining feature of the modern economy, he emphasized focusing on investment in this area as a “vehicle of peace and prosperity”.
He mentioned that China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, could become a game-changer of progress in view of Pakistan’s location connecting the region.
He announced that Pakistan was planning to host a regional connectivity conference in the last quarter of the current year.
On terrorism and extremism, the prime minister said the “monster” must be fought with vigour and determination by all SCO states.
He pointed out that diplomatic point-scoring must be avoided by all countries and said that all forms of terrorism, including State terrorism, must be condemned.
“There is no justification for killing people. Also, the religious minorities should not be marginalized in the garb of political agenda,” he said.
Sharif said the SCO countries must take concerted actions against terrorism, extremism, and separatism both in their national capacities and also under the framework of SCO-RATS (Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure).
Terming peace and security a common concern, he said stability in Afghanistan was critical to achieving the common objective.
He highlighted the impending grave humanitarian crisis and economic meltdown in Afghanistan, which he said, needed urgent corrective measures by the interim Afghan government and the international community.
On climate-induced disasters, the prime minister said the situation demanded global solidarity as it was the time to act “now and immediately”.
He mentioned that Pakistan, during the last year’s flash floods, faced the “horrors of climate change”, leading to 1,700 deaths and economic losses worth $30 billion.
Sharif said poverty alleviation must be a priority in the wake of economic recession.
On Islamophobia, he said peace and communal harmony were the need of the hour. He emphasized adhering to the resolutions of the UN Security Council to settle the issues amicably before it was too late.
The prime minister expressed Pakistan’s resolve to play a positive and constructive role in making SCO an effective regional organization.
He thanked India for its stewardship of SCO during the past year and congratulated Kazakhstan for assuming the chair for the next year. He congratulated the President of Iran on his country’s inclusion in the organization as a full member.