- Calls for greater people to people contacts in order to strengthen ties between member states
- Proposes transition to national currencies and setting up the SCO Development Fund and Bank dedicated to project financing
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the key to unlocking the geo-economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region lay in greater connectivity among the member states and proposed a transition to national currencies and setting up the SCO Development Fund and Bank dedicated to project financing.
Addressing the Meeting of the Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Foreign Ministers, the foreign minister said that the "collective vision of SCO will reach fruition through effective inter-SCO collaboration in connectivity and development of transport links through air, road, and sea".
"However, we have noted a lack of progress in road development and transport connectivity initiatives. In advancing these proposals, we all need to transcend zero-sum perceptions and choose cooperation over confrontation," Qureshi said.
He said SCO is a vital platform to forge closer ties with regional partners and to realize the potential of the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union.
The foreign minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship project of BRI, supplements SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration.
Qureshi said Pakistan views the SCO as a unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian Heartland, which brings together nearly 44% of the global population, a quarter of the global GDP, and three-fifths of the total Eurasian territory.
He said that during Covid-19, the SCO member states "rose to counter the challenge" and especially commended China and Russia for their role in the collective crisis.
The foreign minister said to overcome the challenges arising out of the pandemic, Pakistan supported the initiatives of e-commerce, digital economies, sharing of experiences and practices in innovation, and new technologies.
On regional security, he said SCO-led mechanisms had resulted in "significant success in dealing with the common challenges of terrorism, separatism, extremism, illicit trafficking of drugs, as well as transnational organized crime".
The minister also commended the work carried out in the last two decades that had made SCO a globally recognized and influential multilateral platform.
While emphasizing the importance of joint efforts for the maintenance of international peace and security, Qureshi underscored concern at the "indiscriminate use of force in complete disregard to international humanitarian laws; and unilateral approach to solve longstanding international disputes."
Pakistan hopes SCO-CFM will continue to support peace process in Afghanistan
Pakistan has hoped that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) will continue to play its due role in support of the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon along with Foreign Ministers of SCO member states. During their meeting, the FM emphasized that the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan had opened new challenges and opportunities, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.
"He expressed the hope that SCO would continue to play its due role in support of peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan," the FO statement said.
Qureshi also congratulated the Tajik president on the successful stewardship of SCO under its presidency, during which new areas were identified to further strengthen cooperation under SCO.
Highlighting the government’s vision Central Asia policy to enhance outreach to Central Asian Republics, the FM reaffirmed Pakistan’s interest to work with Central Asian Republics on rail, road and energy projects which would link Central Asia with Pakistan.
The minister further said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provides an ideal opportunity in this regard, the FO said.
On Monday, Qureshi arrived in Tajikistan to lead the Pakistan delegation at the SCO-CFM.
In his meeting with Tajik FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin, both sides expressed commitment to enhance bilateral ties between both the countries in areas of economy, trade and people-to-people relations in line with the vision of their leadership.