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PM flies to Dushanbe to attend SCO meeting today

By Mariana Baabar
September 16, 2021
PM flies to Dushanbe to attend SCO meeting today

ISLAMABAD: All eyes are on Dushanbe to see who represents Afghanistan at the two-day 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) starting today (16-17 September).

Afghanistan has an observer status and has been striving for full membership. Afghanistan will be on top of agenda of the meeting as Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with a high-level delegation, will fly today for Dushanbe. If there is representation from Afghanistan, it will be Khan’s first high level meeting with an Afghan official after the caretaker government was formed in Kabul.

Several bilateral meetings with other leaders have been confirmed on the sidelines of the meeting. After attending the SCO-CHS, the prime minister will have the bilateral segment of the visit. His talks with Tajik president will cover the entire gamut of bilateral relations, especially enhancing trade, economic and investment ties with a particular focus on regional connectivity. The two countries have earlier expressed strong commitment to enter into a formal strategic partnership.

“Pakistan and Tajikistan enjoy close brotherly relations underpinned by the bonds of common faith, history and culture. The two countries have shared perceptions and a common desire to promote economic development, peace, security and stability in the region “, said the Foreign Office.

“The prime minister has been invited by President Emomali Rahmon and this will be his third visit to Central Asia underlying Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with the region,” said the Foreign Office while announcing the visit.

The prime minister’s visit is part of Pakistan’s deepened engagement with Central Asia through ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy, having revitalised focus in five key areas of political ties, trade and investment, energy and connectivity, security and defence, and people-to-people contacts.

SCO is an 8-member permanent inter-governmental trans-regional Organisation. It was established in Shanghai on 15 June 2001. Pakistan became an SCO Observer in 2005 and a full member in June 2017 during Astana SCO-CHS Summit. Russia, China, India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan are other SCO members.

SCO also has 4 Observer states (Iran, Mongolia, Belarus and Afghanistan) and 6 Dialogue Partners (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka). The premier will also inaugurate the first meeting of Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum for which a group of Pakistani businessmen will also visit Dushanbe. The Joint Business Forum will catalyse growing trade and investment relations and promote business to business contacts between the trading communities of both sides. A meeting of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council will also be held on the sidelines.