BISHKEK: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to finalise arrangements for trade in local currencies and set up SCO Fund and SCO Development Bank to catalyse the trans-regional development agenda.
He was presenting his eight-pronged course of action for SCO in the light chaotic international politics at the 19th meeting of SCO Council of Heads of State in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on Friday.
The prime minister said the SCO should reinforce its vision of cooperation, that rejects confrontation, and advance the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international levels.
He said the SCO member states should galvanise the “Shanghai Spirit” to strengthen the organisation’s core mandate of mitigating the risks of conflict, fostering confidence, and promoting stability.
He said the member states need to synergise the various region-wide connectivity initiatives and work on complementing infrastructure connectivity with soft connectivity.
He proposed setting up SCO culture and tourism corridors, clustering multiple SCO destinations into a single package.
Imran emphasised on making the SCO more relevant to the daily lives of citizens by promoting food security and enhancing cooperation in health and humanitarian sectors. He said SCO should take the lead role in establishing a comprehensive framework for combating corruption and white-collar crime.
He said SCO should prioritise women and youth empowerment by focusing inter-alia on strengthening the women forum and the youth council and mandating them to promote gender mainstreaming, skills acquisition and jobs mobility.
He said SCO member countries need to bridge the gap between region-specific research and policy by launching feasibilities for creating SCO centres of excellence on poverty alleviation, de-radicalisation, connectivity, and new technologies.
The prime minister said South Asia continues to be challenged by common enemies: poverty, illiteracy, disease and under-development. He said political differences and unresolved disputes further compound the predicament.
He said enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive until the main dynamic in South Asia is shifted from confrontation to cooperation.
He said it was important to seize the opportunities for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes and collective endeavours for regional prosperity.
The prime minister said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state terrorism against people under illegal occupation.
He said we are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism.
He said Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.
Referring to the Afghan issue, the PM said there was finally a realisation that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution.
He said Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
The PM said Pakistan deemed this to be part of shared responsibility and, therefore, appreciate the positive contributions being made by China, Russia and Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours.
He said SCO’s support for post-conflict Afghanistan will remain crucial.
Expressing concern over the evolving situation in the Gulf and the Middle East, Imran said Pakistan joins the SCO members in urging the parties to exercise restraint, take steps to de-escalate the situation and find solutions through diplomatic means.
He said Pakistan believed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by all parties was essential for international and regional stability.
The PM said Pakistan provides the vital connectivity between the Middle East and China and Central and South Asia. These geographic proximities and economic imperatives draw us closer to SCO.
He said Pakistan is an attractive investment destination and a large market endowed with a rich array of resources.
He said Pakistan’s foreign policy outlook is anchored on the inextricable link between peace and development.
He said we build partnerships based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and equal benefit.
The PM said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of President Xi’s far-sighted Belt and Road Initiative, is fast reaching fruition.
He said Gwadar Port, at its southern end, marks the only point of convergence of the maritime Belt and Road. He said CPEC is destined to catalyse the creation of an integrated pan-Asian sphere of shared prosperity.