Tuesday December 06, 2022

PM to attend SCO heads of state moot in Uzbekistan this week

Sharif leaves at a time when one third of Pakistan is completely flooded

September 14, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif—APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif—APP 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be visiting Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on 15th and 16th September to attend the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of State (CHS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), at a time when member states will be focusing on climate change amongst other issues on the agenda.

Sharif leaves at a time when one third of Pakistan is completely flooded, hundreds of people have died, 3.6 million acres of crops destroyed, over 750,000 livestock killed, with one estimate putting economic losses of $12.5 billion.

Since becoming a full member of the SCO in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing towards advancing organisation’s core objectives through its participation in various SCO mechanisms.

“The CHS is the highest forum of SCO, which considers and defines strategy, prospects and priorities of the organisation. At the forthcoming CHS, the SCO leaders will deliberate on important global and regional issues, including climate change, food security, energy security and sustainable supply chains. They would also approve agreements and documents that would chart the future direction of cooperation among the SCO member states,” announced the Foreign Office, but made no mention about the prime minister’s delegation and which senior ministers would be accompanying him.

The News understands that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood will be a part of the delegation. President of the Republic of Uzbekistan ShavkatMirziyoyev, on the eve of the summit, also pointed out to climate change while writing an article.

“Global climate shocks, growing scarcity of natural resources, including water, a decline in biodiversity and the spread of dangerous infectious diseases have exposed the vulnerability of our societies as never before. They lead to destruction of existential common goods, threatening the basis of people’s lives and reducing sources of income,” Mirziyoyev noted.

The Foreign Office pointed out that the prime minister would hold bilateral meetings with other participating leaders on the sidelines of the CHS. The News understands that the bilateral meetings are still being finalised with efforts by the government to ensure maximum number of meetings.

“Except with India, the prime minister will be holding bilateral meetings with most of the leaders that will attend,” government sources told The News. Important will be a meeting between Sharif and the Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will travel for the first time out of the country in over two years this week since the breakout of Covid pandemic. This will be their first meeting since Sharif became the prime minister.

The CHS meeting participants will discuss and adopt a final document, the Samarkand Declaration, a comprehensive agreement covering all SCO activities.

Shehbaz Sharif will be participating in the SCO-CHS on the invitation of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who would chair the meeting. The leaders of SCO Members and Observer States as well as heads of SCO organisations and other special guests would attend the meeting.

The Uzbek president in his article made special mention of Afghanistan which he said for centuries, played the role of a buffer in the historical confrontations of global and regional powers, and should try a new peaceful mission of connecting Central and South Asia. “The construction of the trans-Afghan corridor could become a symbol of such mutually beneficial inter-regional cooperation. It is also important to understand that by implementing joint infrastructure projects such as the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif -Kabul-Peshawar railroad, we are not just solving socioeconomic, transportation, and communication problems, but also making a significant contribution to ensuring regional security,” he noted.