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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani has reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering commitment to the “Shanghai Spirit”, emphasizing mutual trust and a shared vision for prosperity and development.

According to Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Jilani is in Bishkek where he is leading the Pakistani delegation at the Council of Heads of Government of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting.

The Council of Heads of Government is the second-highest forum within the SCO, with a primary focus on fostering cooperation among member states in socioeconomic, trade, and financial sectors.

In his address to the Council’s meeting, Jilani outlined Pakistan’s perspective on transport and regional connectivity, regional cooperation in youth empowerment, poverty alleviation, climate change, and disaster relief.

He said that Pakistan plans to host a conference on transport connectivity for regional prosperity this year.

He said that SCO Business Council and Inter-Bank Association can play a vital role in fostering economic and commercial cooperation amongst SCO member states.

“Pakistan is committed to the “Shanghai Spirit” that stands for mutual trust and respect for shared prosperity and development. Shanghai spirit anchors our collective efforts in the face of great transformation in the geo-political and geo-economic arenas,” he said. Pakistan also assumed the chair of the CHG of the SCO.

During Pakistan’s Chair of CHG, Jilani said that the top priority will be accorded to fostering cooperation in critical and practical areas.

These include enhancing connectivity and transport links, youth empowerment, investment in key sectors with high regional potential, such as agriculture, mining, minerals, energy, and information technology. Alongside, Pakistan will continue to strengthen cooperation in the fields of education and poverty alleviation, he added.

He said that SCO is the key platform for taking the vision of Eurasian connectivity to the next level. Pakistan’s location at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East makes it an ideal trade conduit. “Investing in our collective connectivity capacities is crucial to advancing our shared vision for an economically integrated region. In this context, Pakistan plans to host a Conference on Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity,” he said.

He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a force multiplier for regional connectivity. Lack of connectivity is an impediment to regional trade, investment and development, he said, adding that CPEC does not only connect Pakistan to its neighbour China but also offers all SCO Member States a chance to invest in our shared future and full regional economic integration.

He said that transformation in the global political and economic orders has been accelerated by the digital and information revolution. To equip our next generations with the required tools and skill sets to navigate these revolutionary trends, we should be proactive and pre-emptive, he said.

In this regard, he added that empowerment of the youth is of foremost importance. It is imperative that we further develop our strengths and address our weaknesses in a timely fashion. Our policies of today can harness the tremendous human potential of our region, he said, adding that in this vein, Pakistan proposes to host a Conference on Youth Empowerment Through Digital Economy.

“We are confident that under Pakistan’s permanent chairmanship of the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation, significant impetus can be provided to our collective endeavors aimed at improving the living standards of our people,” he said, adding that we are currently in the planning stages of hosting the inaugural session of the special working group on poverty alleviation, focused on Leveraging Digital Technologies to Enhance Social Safety Nets in the SCO Member States.

He further stated that ensuring stability in Afghanistan is imperative for safeguarding the peace and stability of our region. “SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group can play an important role in this regard. Reviving the Contact Group can foster dialogue and meaningfully assist the Afghan authorities in overcoming their economic challenges and building their counter-terrorism capacities,” he added.

“Pakistan is committed to working for a sustainable and nature-positive world that we owe to our future generations. SCO, as the most significant regional organisation, is well placed to become the pioneer of multilateral practical cooperation for dealing with emergency situations,” he further said.

To tap on this mutually beneficial potential of our organisation, he said that Pakistan plans to host a meeting on prevention and response to emergency situations.

Jilani also underlined that SCO is neither a forum for political point-scoring nor is it mandated to resolve bilateral or trilateral issues. “Bringing controversial and disputed issues to SCO can undermine the achievements of SCO for almost quarter of a century. Keeping SCO free from myopic domestic political considerations and making it work for our region’s shared future are our collective responsibilities,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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