ASTANA: Pakistan, along with India, on Friday became full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asserting that Pakistan “will strive to achieve collective objectives of the organisation for regional cooperation, connectivity and economic prosperity”.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev made an announcement in this regard after signing of documents by the founding members – including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping – at the conclusion of 17th SCO summit.
Pakistan has been an observer with the SCO since 2005 and applied for its full membership in 2010. The decision, in principle, to give membership to Pakistan was taken by the SCO Heads of States meeting held in Ufa, Russia, in 2015.
In his address at the summit of Heads of State Council of the SCO, Sharif thanked the founding members for their ‘staunch support’ for his country’s entry into the organisation, which he hailed as ‘an anchor of stability in the region’.
The prime minister said: “Pakistan pursued a policy of peaceful neighbourhood and stresses upon promotion of peace and harmony for the future generations which should not be made toxic with an air of animosity.”
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“As leaders, we should leave a legacy of peace and amity for our future generations; not a toxic harvest of conflict and animosity. Instead of talking about counterweights and containment, let us create shared spaces for all,” the prime minister added.
He said with its expansion, the SCO had been transformed into true transcontinental organisation.
Sharif said: “The SCO gives the member states a platform for shared prosperity and connectivity and to overcome terrorism and extremism, poverty, unemployment, tackle climate change and water security.
“Pakistan successfully fought the twin evils of terrorism and extremism, while his government brings about a complete turnaround in the economic situation of the country.”
Sharif said the objectives of the SCO resonated with Pakistan's core values for shared prosperity.
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“The SCO provided a lead role for regional progress and prosperity in view of the global changes. In coming decades, it would serve as a strong link between the Asia-Pacific, East Asia, West Asia and the Atlantic region,” he added.
“Pakistan is diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of ‘One belt, One Road’ initiative,” Sharif said, adding: “It will be beneficial for the entire SCO members.”
Congratulating India on the full member status of the SCO, the prime minister said: “It is a historic day for Pakistan and the SCO members as well.”
The prime minister said Pakistan came prepared and eager to learn from the founding members in the changing international environment.
The summit was attended by heads of member states including President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of China Xi Jinping, President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
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President of Afghanistan Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were also present during the summit.
Prime Minister's Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir and Minister of State for Petroleum Jam Kamal were accompanying the prime minister.
The SCO was founded at a Summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Pakistan, India and Iran were admitted as observers at the 2005 Astana Summit.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakria said: “Pakistan's membership of the SCO will help strengthen its connectivity with the region.”
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Talking to a private news channel, he said being an emerging platform, the SCO would provide Pakistan a good opportunity to play its role in addressing the challenges being faced by the region, such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and security related matters.
Also, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the historic gathering inaugurated on Friday that India and Pakistan “now have a new space to work out their differences”.
He said the SCO was becoming one of the world’s gravitational centres and one of the foundations of the current global order.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at the inauguration ceremony that the entry of the new members would give fresh impetus to the organisation's development and further boost its relevance internationally.
The SCO remains open to new applications and will next consider the candidacy of Iran, which is backed by Russia but opposed by some members of the organisation.
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In addition to the final Astana Declaration, the SCO leaders have signed 10 other documents, including a convention on combating extremism and a declaration on the joint fight against international terrorism.
On the sidelines
Premier Sharif said cross border terrorism on Pak-Afghan border will be addressed soon and Pakistan will enter into agreements with Afghanistan in the fields of trade and defence.
While talking to media persons in Astana, Sharif said that he held a very positive meeting with Afghan president over various issues including cross border terrorism.
He said that Pakistan wants to have good relations with its neighbouring countries, especially with Afghanistan, since it is a brotherly Muslim country.
The PM said he is much concerned about the situation emerging in Indian Occupied Kashmir, adding that he had highlighted the agonies of Kashmiris during sideline meetings with heads of SCO member states.
He said he apprised Russian and Chinese presidents about the atrocities and adverse situation being faced by Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir.
Sharif said he had also discussed the Kashmir issue with UN secretary general at length and he acknowledged it.
Towards SCO membership
While responding to a question about a leaked picture of his meeting with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, he said, "There have been many leaks like Dawn Leaks and Panama Leaks, but it brings about no results.”
The PM said his government has taken all appropriate measures to end energy crisis and new technologies available in the world are being considered in this filed.
He said," Pakistan will not only produce enough energy for itself but will sell to neighbouring countries as well.”
During his meeting with the Russian president, matters related to defence also came under discussion along with trade agreements.
In the meeting it was observed that Pakistani troops will proceed to Russia in August this year to hold joint military exercise with Russians contingents.
[With additional input from News Desk]
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