Inter-SCO collaboration on finance, linkages proposed

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the key to unlock the geo-economic potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) region lay in greater connectivity among the member states and proposed a transition to national currencies and setting up the SCO Development Fund and Bank dedicated to project financing.
According to a statement by the Foreign Office, addressing the Meeting of the Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Foreign Ministers, the foreign minister said that the “collective vision of SCO will reach fruition through effective inter-SCO collaboration in connectivity and development of transport links through air, road and sea”.
“However, we have noted a lack of progress in road development and transport connectivity initiatives. In advancing these proposals, we all need to transcend zero-sum perceptions and choose cooperation over confrontation,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi said Pakistan views the SCO as a unique template for interstate relations within the Eurasian Heartland, that brings together nearly 44% of the global population, a quarter of the global GDP, and three-fifths of the total Eurasian territory. He said that during COVID-19, the SCO member states “rose to counter the challenge” and especially commended China and Russia for their role in the collective crisis.
The foreign minister said to overcome the challenges arising out of the pandemic, Pakistan supported the initiatives of e-commerce, digital economies, sharing of experiences and practices in innovation and new technologies.
On regional security, he said SCO-led mechanisms had resulted in “significant success in dealing with the common challenges of terrorism, separatism, extremism, illicit trafficking of drugs, as well as transnational organised crime”. He said that Pakistan is contributing through participation in joint border exercises and joint anti-terrorism exercises as well as through collective action in the fight against narcotics and their precursors.
He said stability and peace in Afghanistan had “a bearing on regional security in the SCO space”. As a shared responsibility, he said, Pakistan had played its part in facilitating the peace process aimed at forging a comprehensive, broad based and inclusive, negotiated political solution that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. He expressed serious concern over the unfolding situation in the wake of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops and in the absence of a peace deal.
“The rise in violence in recent weeks has exacerbated an already volatile situation.
“A specter of chaos and escalated conflict looms large that would also give space to the ‘spoilers’ who wish to see the reign of instability in Afghanistan and the region,” he said.
He called upon all Afghan parties to engage constructively and work for a negotiated political solution. “Pakistan has been and will always be a partner for peace. “We stand ready to working with SCO member states in reinforcing efforts for sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
The foreign minister proposed some ideas he said “would contribute towards achieving our shared vision of a prosperous and inter connected region”.
– SCO family needs to focus on collective economic development that intertwines with our national Sustainable Development Goals.
“Our agencies dealing with achieving Sustainable Development Goals must meet at least once a year and share experiences and best practices in a spirit of cooperation and shared progress,” said Qureshi.
– In order to promote business partnerships, necessary linkages between CEOs and entrepreneurs of SCO member states must be created and a mechanism to connect annually at the SCO CEOs Club must be offered.
“I would be happy to host its first meeting in Pakistan,” the foreign minister said.
– Empowerment of women in different walks of life is a shared objective within SCO. “Contributing towards this goal, I would like to see SCO Women Entrepreneurs Forum established. A platform that brings together women in business/ trade/ and creative arts to forge a strong SCO identity,” Qureshi said.
– A Women Parliamentarians Caucus from SCO countries.
“As representatives of the people, women parliamentarians offer a unique perspective and leadership style that adds value and depth to governance mechanisms,” the foreign minister said. SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov, Director Executive Committee SCO-Regional Anti Terrorists Structures Jumakhon Giyasov, Foreign Minister of host Tajikistan Sirojiddin Muhriddin and other foreign ministers of SCO member states participated in the meeting.