Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called upon regional leaders to join forces and develop comprehensive strategies to fight against terror together.
“Armed conflicts continue to rage in several parts of the world, unleashing forces beyond the control of anyone,” the premier said on Tuesday while urging the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to confront the challenges collectively. “The security situation around us remains precarious. We are seeing the threat to state sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He was speaking at the 14th SCO meeting of heads of governments in Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s Henan province. The meeting focuses on cooperation in economy, trade, transport, people-to-people contacts and to promote regional cooperation and to enhance linkages.
PM Nawaz said the SCO had a special role to play in promoting peace and regional stability as militant ideologies needed to be countered.
“Terrorism remains a serious threat and has in fact become even more insidious,” he said. “We have to identify common values. Our diversity can serve as a positive force, to promote harmony and advance avenues of cooperation and shared prosperity.”
The premier added the SCO partnership could extend to infrastructure and energy cooperation, development of natural resources and working together for a more democratic, accountable, transparent and just international order. The SCO Development Strategy 2025 envisions these goals.
He said Pakistan believed connectivity and development were critical to progress, prosperity and security in the region. “We support the one belt and one road initiative of President Xi Jinping and remain committed to making China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a resounding success.”
Pakistan, with its unique geostrategic location, was ready to play its role in developing these linkages, the PM added.
Over the last 15 years, he said, the SCO has promoted mutual trust and cooperation in countering terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime. This has strengthened mutually beneficial partnerships in the fields of trade, finance, energy, infrastructure, tourism and environmental protection.
The organisation has expanded its geographical reach by adding six observers and six dialogue partners. Earlier this year, the SCO took another landmark decision in Ufa, Russia, to expand its membership and accept membership requests of two new countries – India and Pakistan.
PM Nawaz said Pakistan was awaiting its memorandum of obligation from the SCO Secretariat for finalising its membership at the next summit in Tashkent in June 2016.
Earlier, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the SCO’s expansion was to make the organisation a strong platform for addressing the challenges confronting the region. “Extremism and terrorism pose unprecedented challenges to the community and call for collective efforts for peace, stability and prosperity of the region,” he said.
On the sidelines of the summit, Nawaz and Li agreed to further strengthen their relations in diverse fields, particularly in economy and energy sectors. The CPEC and energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan also featured in the discussion, where Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal and PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi were also present.
The premier assured his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan wanted that all projects under the CPEC to be completed timely and efficiently. He added a special security force had already been set up for the security for Chinese workers.
Both the leaders also discussed the Afghan reconciliation process, the recent meeting of PM Nawaz with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2015.
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