Pakistan on Monday condemned terrorism in all its forms and cautioned against the recent rise in extremist and racist incidents, inspired by neo-Nazism and Islamophobia, during a high-level virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation hosted by India. Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas represented Pakistan in the 19th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO-CHG), held via video conference, according to a statement by the Foreign Office.
She also underscored the imperative of creating a safe and secure neighborhood, while condemning terrorism in the “disputed territories”, in what could be interpreted as an oblique reference towards India and Kashmir. “Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State terrorism inflicted upon people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories, the Parliamentary Secretary cautioned against the recent rise in extremist and racist incidents, inspired by neo-Nazism and Islamophobia, according the Foreign Office.
Earlier, in his address, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said the most important challenge faced by the region is terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism. “Terrorism is truly the enemy of humanity. It is a scourge we need to collectively combat. We remain concerned about threats emerging from ungoverned spaces and are particularly concerned about states that leverage terrorism as an instrument of state policy,” he said at the virtual meet hosted by India. “Such an approach is entirely against the spirit and ideals and the charter of the SCO,” Naidu said, without naming Pakistan directly in his address.
In another indirect reference to Pakistan, Naidu criticised attempts to bring bilateral issues into the SCO by blatantly violating its well-established principles and norms of charter safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states. In her address, Abbas highlighted the importance of the 8-member bloc for Pakistan in achieving regional peace and stability, and development of closer ties with regional partners through multi-faceted linkages and connectivity.
She emphasised the need for cooperation, collaboration and sharing of knowledge and expertise to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. She recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Global Initiative on Debt Relief’ advocated the provision of fiscal space to developing countries to address the adverse economic impacts of the pandemic.
“Pakistan values the SCO region as a pivotal link for regional connectivity and integration, she said, adding that connectivity projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), like industrial parks and energy projects, were laying the future of a prosperous and globally-connected region. In the context of climate change, she apprised the forum about the Ecosystem Restoration Initiative of the Prime Minister, which includes planting of 10 billion trees over the next three years.
She thanked member states for supporting Pakistan’s initiative for creating a Special Working Group (SWG) on Poverty Alleviation, which will provide an opportunity for sharing of experiences and exchange of ideas between SCO member states. She also reiterated Prime Minister Khan’s proposal for a multi-year SCO Youth Strategy focusing on building partnerships among educational institutions, offering scholarships and exchange programmes for youth in the scientific field.
Abbas also underscored that the Prime Minister’s initiative of opposing illicit financial flows from developing nations, and bringing back stolen wealth, would help affected countries pursue their development objectives. The SCO-CHG focuses primarily on economic and trade cooperation, according to FO.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Khan had participated in the SCO Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS), the highest forum of SCO, held in virtual format.