'Pakistan is an attractive investment destination,' Premier tells SCO heads of state

From L: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Emomali Rahmon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev pose for a photo prior to a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Bishkek.
By Mahnoor Babur

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, said that Pakistan is an attractive investment destination and a large market endowed with a rich array of resources.

Addressing the 19th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of SCO, the premier said the predominantly young population of Pakistan is imbued with immense energy and creativity.

“Our other endowments include a vast pool of skilled human resource, a large agrarian base, tremendous tourism potential, diverse mineral wealth, and a developed IT infrastructure.”

He said Pakistan builds its partnerships based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and equal benefit.

Imran said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which he noted was “the flagship project of President Xi’s far-sighted Belt and Road Initiative”, is fast reaching fruition.

“Gwadar Port, at its southern end, marks the only point of convergence of the maritime Belt and the overland Road.”

“In time, CPEC is destined to catalyse the creation of an integrated pan-Asian sphere of shared prosperity,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran said that the world was seeing the “advent of a multi-polar global order” for the first time in ages.

“Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards,” he said, adding: “Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing.”

The premier said that there were threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance. Additionally, he said there were increasing barriers to open trade and innovation as well as growing intolerance and Islamaphobia, which were “threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines”.

He said that Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms including state terrorism against people under illegal occupation.

“We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” PM Imran stated, adding: “Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.”

While sharing that Pakistan fully supports efforts for peace and reconcliation in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, he said that there was “finally a realisation” that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

“SCO’s support for post-conflict Afghanistan will remain crucial,” he said while appreciating the contributions being made by China, Russia and Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours to the process.

Prime Minister Imran noted that South Asia continued to be challenged by “common enemies” of poverty, illiteracy, disease and under-development.

“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.”

“It is important to seize the opportunities for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes and collective endeavours for regional prosperity.”

The premier joined the SCO members in urging all parties in the evolving situation in the Gulf and the Middle East to “exercise restraint, take steps to de-escalate the situation and find solutions through diplomatic means”.

“We believe implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by all parties is essential for international and regional stability.”

Prime Minister Imran presented an eight-pronged course of action:
  • Reinforce our vision of cooperation, that rejects confrontation, and advance the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international levels.
  • Galvanise the “Shanghai Spirit” to strengthen SCO’s core mandate of mitigating the risks of conflict, fostering confidence, and promoting stability.
  • Finalise arrangements for trade in local currencies, and set up SCO Fund and SCO Development Bank to catalyse the trans-regional development agenda.
  • Synergise the various region-wide connectivity initiatives, and work on complementing infrastructure connectivity with soft connectivity, including digital, cultural, touristic, and academic. “I propose setting up SCO Culture & Tourism Corridors, clustering multiple SCO destinations into a single package,” he said.
  • Make SCO more relevant to the daily lives of citizens by promoting food security and enhancing cooperation in health and humanitarian sectors.
  • Take the lead role in establishing a comprehensive framework for combating corruption and white-collar crime.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Meeting with Xi Jinping

The prime minister earlier on Friday held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO summit.

The entire gamut of bilateral relations, including CPEC, was discussed during the “extremely cordial meeting” between the two leaders, according to the media cell of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“CPEC remains the highest priority of the government,” Imran was quoted as saying.

President Xi acknowledged Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and its efforts to promote regional stability.

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The two sides discussed the regional situation and reaffirmed their “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”, according to the statement.

The two delegations “agreed to enhance coordination to build Pakistan China Community of Shared Destiny in the New Era”.

The leaders of the SCO countries today gathered to pose for a group photo prior to their meeting.

Informal talk with Vladmir Putin

Prime Minister Imran had on Thursday had an ‘informal’ talk with Russian President Vladmir Putin after reaching Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to represent Pakistan at SCO summit.

Earlier in the day, in an interview with media, the premier had expressed his hope to meet Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the summit.

“I think this will just be an informal meeting on the sides of the SCO conference. I already met him briefly during my visit to China, where there was a conference by Chinese President Xi. So I met him, but this time I hope to have an informal chat with him. I already met the prime minister of Russia in China on my first visit,” media had quoted PM Imran as saying.

Meeting with Kyrgyz president

Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with  Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov. — Photo courtesy PM Office
Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov. — Photo courtesy PM Office

The prime minister also had a cordial meeting with the Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov on the sidelines of the SCO summit, a statement released by the Prime Minister Office said.

According to media, Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov had extended the invitation to Prime Minister Imran to attend the two-day summit.

The prime minister congratulated the Kyrgyz president on hosting the summit, who in turn “appreciated Pakistan’s role in the SCO”, the statement added.

The two countries agreed to strengthen land and air connectivity between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“The two leaders also reviewed bilateral relations and agreed to comprehensively upgrade mutual cooperation in diverse fields,” according to the statement.

Furthermore, both leaders also agreed to a “joint ministerial commission and bilateral political consultations soon”.

It was also decided that Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan must enhance people-to-people contact and boost tourism through visa-friendly regimes.

PM Imran extended an invitation to the Kyrgyz President to visit Pakistan.

Earlier upon his arrival, Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and health minister Kosmosbek Sarievich Cholponbaev received the premier, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) shared on social media.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Mohammad Usman Dar are accompanying the premier on this trip.

The prime minister is set to address two sessions of the meeting. Leaders of SCO Members and observer states, as well as, representatives of important international organisations will attend the meeting.

Prime Minister Imran is expected to conduct meetings with other participating leaders as well on the sidelines of the event.

It is expected that a number of decisions will be approved by the leaders attending the meeting, besides signing of agreements to intensify cooperation in diverse fields.

Since becoming an SCO member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively participating in various SCO events, including ones involving foreign affairs, defence, national security, economy and trade, science and innovation, youth and women empowerment, tourism and media.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had attended the meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in Bishkek last month. The meeting had considered and finalised the documents and decisions to be signed by the SCO leaders during the current two-day meeting.

The PM was received by Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev,  and Kyrgyz Minister for Health Kosmosbek Sarievich Cholponbaev. —  Photo courtesy of the government of Pakistan
The PM was received by Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev, and Kyrgyz Minister for Health Kosmosbek Sarievich Cholponbaev. — Photo courtesy of the government of Pakistan