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May 23, 2019

Pak future linked with pan-Asian prosperity: FM

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May 23, 2019

BISHKEK: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday Pakistan’s future was linked with shared pan-Asian prosperity, saying an institutional framework among the regional states was important to address common challenges mainly terrorism, poverty and economy through dispute resolution.

“Enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive without good-faith diplomacy and result-oriented dialogue,” he said in his address at the plenary session of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.

Foreign Minister Qureshi pointed out that South Asia, as part and parcel of SCO, lagged behind other regions in terms of regional cooperation, economic integration and connectivity that resulted in formidable challenges including poverty, illiteracy and disease.

He said political differences and unresolved disputes among the states had compounded the predicament. On a positive note, he said, Pakistan had initiated work on the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate pilgrimage of Sikh devotees to visit their holy shrine, adding:

“The Shanghai Spirit is being reinforced through the Kartarpur Spirit”.Qureshi presented a seven-point agenda at the SCO meeting focusing on confidence-building measures among member states, including control on weapon race, establishment of joint fund and international framework to combat corruption and crime.

He stressed the need for developing regional consensus to arrest buildup of missile defence systems by individual states or groups of states and to keep outer space free of weapons. For integrated economy, he called for setting up SCO Development Fund and SCO Development Bank and also finalising proposals for trade in local currencies.

The foreign minister also stressed the need for evolving a comprehensive international framework to fight white collar crime and check production, supply, trafficking and demand for illicit drugs. He said leveraging SCO’s institutional capacity could synergize various connectivity initiatives including Belt and Road Initiative, Economic Cooperation Organisation, and Eurasian Economic Union.

He also suggested strengthening SCO Youth Council to promote cultural understanding, saying Pakistan looked forward to joining the council soon. Qureshi mentioned that as the leadership of SCO member states would meet in June, there was a need to discuss the challenges confronting sustainable growth, environment and collective security.

He stressed SCO provided an excellent platform for collective endeavours and coordinated approaches. He mentioned SCO region representing 42 per cent of humanity, 23 per cent of world’s land mass, and 22 per cent of global nominal gross domestic product was imbued with the “Shanghai Spirit”, aiming the way forward.

The foreign minister said Pakistan was a product of centuries of amalgamation of foreign and local influences along with other SCO states that had been epicenters of civilization. He highlighted the fast-reaching fruition in shape of the transformational China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying: “The geography of SCO region provides an opportunity for air, land and sea links connecting South with Central Asia, Middle East with China, Europe with the Far East, and Eurasia with the sea”.

On terrorism, he said Pakistan condemned it in all forms and manifestations including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation and lauded the cooperation under SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

Qureshi mentioned Pakistan was among one of the few countries to have successfully fought and reversed the tide of terrorism and extremism and was ready to share its experience and expertise with SCO states through the structure.

The foreign minister said Afghanistan remained central to Pakistan’s efforts to forge lasting regional stability and consistently called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of dialogue and reconciliation as the only viable way forward.

Earlier, SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov highlighted the objectives of the meeting, which was attended by foreign ministers of SCO member states, representatives of observer countries and director executive committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Jumakhon Giyosov.

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