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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi, on Tuesday, called for greater cooperation and regional economic integration among countries of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to attain the goals of cohesive regional development and prosperity.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the second conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO) countries, hosted by Pakistan, he said that economic integration could also act as an effective driver to foster sustainable peace and security.

Alvi said that no one will listen to us unless we are economically stable enough, for which, he emphasised proper tapping of the region’s immense resources by the ECO countries to nurture alliances for a win-win economic stability.

“If you want to become strong enough, you need to be economically strong globally [and] we need a viable regional integration through open trade market for sustainable development and poverty alleviation,” he added.

Alvi said that the ECO region – with its eight million square kilometers landmass and 500 million people – comprised six percent of the world population and had the potential to become economic power through institutionalised trade policy reforms.

He said that West’s double standards and hypocrisy in the name of so-called freedom of expression where the incidents of blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) were on the rise compared to the intolerance against a slight discussion on the Holocaust.

“Labeling the freedom struggle of Palestinians and Kashmiris as terrorism by Israel and India was another approach of seeing them through the prism of prejudice,” he lamented.

However, Alvi said that Pakistan’s stance on Israel’s violations of human rights was not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist, adding “we are against genocide and not against Jews or Christians, but against all oppressors of humanity”.

The National Assembly Speaker, Asad Qaiser, who presided over the moot, said that Pakistan believed in parliamentary partnership among the ECO states to ensure socio-economic development.

He said that economic connectivity in the region was significant to deal with the challenges of terrorism, amid the risk posed by the non-state actors as an enemy of prosperity.

He proposed ECO investment agency, the establishment of inter-regional linkages, and promotion of knowledge-based economies.

Participating in the moot via video link, the Speaker of Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, noted that despite efforts for promotion of economic cooperation among the ECO member countries, “the achievements we had so far are too little”.

He also expressed the Iranian Parliament’s opposition to unilateralism and support for multilateralism, calling for collective efforts by the ECO members for the establishment of a fair and non-discriminatory international economic system for the achievement of economic growth and balanced development.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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