Thursday October 06, 2022

Bilawal reaffirms commitment to SCO goals

Pakistan reaffirmed its unflinching commitment to the goals and principles of the SCO Charter and the Shanghai Spirit, and reiterated that it would always be a strong partner in all SCO endeavours aimed at promoting collective good

By Our Correspondent
July 30, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. File photo
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. File photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday reaffirmed its unflinching commitment to the goals and principles of the SCO Charter and the Shanghai Spirit, and reiterated that it would always be a strong partner in all SCO endeavours aimed at promoting collective good.

Speaking at the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting in Tashkent, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “Today, the SCO is a formidable trans-regional, multilateral organisation representing 41% of global population, 22% of world’s landmass and 23% of global GDP. SCO contributions to regional security and stability as well as to shaping of economic and information environment continue to grow.”

Bilawal spoke at a time when more countries showed interest in joining the organisation and the expansion of SCO saw Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar getting ready to sign pacts to get dialogue partner status while the process has started for Belarus to get full membership. The SCO summit in September will see Maldives and Bahrain getting dialogue partner status. Nepal, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal and Cambodia are hopeful for observer status.

Bilawal said the expansion of SCO membership was a testimony to its growing significance in the global multilateral architecture. “We welcome new dialogue partners Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt and look forward to brotherly Iran taking its place soon as a full member. We also welcome the UAE’s desire to join the SCO family,” he said and added Pakistan also supported the applications of Bahrain and Maldives as new dialogue partners and Azerbaijan and Armenia as new observers. “We also support, in principle, the applications of Belarus as a full member, Nepal and Cambodia as observers and Myanmar and Syria as dialogue partners,” he said.

Listing the challenges the world faces, the foreign minister said: “Pakistan believes that the best course in these turbulent times is to renew our faith in the time-honoured principles of inter-state relations and reinforce the resilience of our institutions.” In this regard, he advocated centrality of the principles of non-use or threat of use of force, respect for sovereignty and territory integrity, pacific settlement of disputes and equal security for all.

“Our own charter emphasizes good neighbourliness, unity and cooperation between states and their peoples. It is our considered view that peaceful coexistence and cooperation – and not confrontation – must be the key drivers of global politics,” he added.

Speaking on Afghanistan, he asked the Afghan interim authorities, for their part, to take steps to address the international community’s expectations about inclusivity; respect for the rights of all Afghans including girls’ education and effective counterterrorism actions. “For its part, Pakistan will remain committed to a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan and work with international partners to advance our shared objectives,” he said.

Commenting on terrorism, he said this was one of the major threats that the international community continued to face. “Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories. As the phenomenon of terrorism continues to evolve, the growing levels of intolerance, emergence of extremist and hegemonic ideologies and Islamophobic impulses have imparted a different level of lethality to this threat. We believe the world community can ignore these manifestations only at its own peril,” he said.

Supporting the proposed “Strategy for Developing Connectivity and Creating Efficient Transport Corridors”, Bilawal pointed out that Pakistan was actively working on the Trans-Afghan Railway (TAR) project with “our brothers in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan”. “It will provide a crucial link from Central Asia to the seaports in Pakistan, providing a natural trans-shipment link to the SCO region. We are keen to develop mutually beneficial arrangements for the SCO countries in the area of trans-shipment, warehousing, multimodal transportation and so on,” he said, adding that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI, already served as a pivotal platform to help promote connectivity and regional prosperity. “Pakistan will host a virtual conference on Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity later this year,” he said. —Mariana Baabar