Regional cooperation: SCO summit opens today

President Asif Ali Zardari will highlight Islamabad’s perceptions on key issues.


Qaiser Butt June 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


Top leaders of China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states will meet at Astana, Kazakhstan, and likely to focus on extremism and separatism during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit scheduled to be held on June 14, Tuesday (today).


The SCO leaders are also likely to take up issues related to regional and global peace, security, cooperation and economic development.

The 10th summit meeting of the SCO will be attended by heads of states and leaders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Sri Lanka, Belarus and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

President Asif Ali Zardari will also address the summit to highlight Islamabad’s perceptions on the issues. He will seek a permanent SCO membership for Pakistan.

President Zardai is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with SCO leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

Terrorism and drugs smuggling will also be on the agenda of the two-day conference.

Pakistan is already cooperating with Central Asian States and Russia against the Islamic extremism, more so with China.

Beijing is concerned over the growing incidence of extremism and separatism in China.

Last month, China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan conducted counter-terrorism drills in Xinjiang where separatists have staged attacks to undermine the Beijing rule.

Beijing conducted a similar exercise with Kazakhstan in 2006.

China is also concerned with the presence of a number of its citizens among the Muslim militants in Afghanistan who are said to be linked with al Qaeda.

The increasing influence of al Qaeda in the Central Asian states and drugs smuggling into Russia from Afghanistan is a cause of serious worry for Moscow.

According to the SCO Secretary-General, the SCO summit will approve an anti-drugs strategy for 2011-2016.

Chian, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are full members of the SCO, while Pakistan, India, Iran and Mongolia are observer states. Sri Lanka and Belarus are participating as dialogue partners, while Commonwealth of Independent States, Turkmenistan and Asean representative are attending as guests.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.

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