SCO unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian heartland: Shah Mahmood Qureshi

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the key to unlock the geo-economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region lies in greater connectivity among member states and proposed transition to national currencies by setting up SCO Development Bank.

Mr Qureshi is in Dushanbe to participate in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

Speaking at a meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, Mr Qureshi said the collective vision of SCO would reach fruition through effective inter-SCO collaboration in connectivity and development of transport links through air, road and sea.

SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov, Director of Executive Committee on SCO Regional Anti-Terrorists Structures Jumakhon Giyasov, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin and other foreign ministers of SCO member states participated in the meeting.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan viewed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian heartland that brought together nearly 44 per cent of global population, a quarter of global GDP, and three-fifths of the total Eurasian territory.

During Covid-19, he said, the SCO member states rose to counter the challenge and especially China and Russia played an important role in this regard.

He said in order to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, Pakistan supported 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 organised crime.

He said that stability and peace in Afghanistan had a bearing on regional security in the SCO space.

As a shared responsibility, he said, Pakistan had played its part in facilitating the peace process aimed at forging a comprehensive, broad-based and inclusive, negotiated political solution that was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

He expressed serious concern over the unfolding situation in the wake of withdrawal of US and Nato troops and in the absence of a peace deal.

A specter of chaos and escalated conflict loomed large that would also give space to the spoilers who wished to see the reign of instability in Afghanistan and the region, he said. He called upon all Afghan parties to engage constructively and work for a negotiated political solution.

He suggested the SCO family to focus on collective economic development, promote business partnerships and empowerment of women in different walks of life.

Mr Qureshi also proposed establishment of SCO women entrepreneurs forum as a platform to bring together women in business, trade and creative arts to forge a strong SCO identity. He called for constituting a women parliamentarians caucus from SCO countries.

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