Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, speaking at the 23rd Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit hosted by India, emphasized the crucial need to counter terrorism and ensure equal treatment of minorities. In response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for the organization to unite against terrorism and condemn nations supporting it, PM Shehbaz expressed the shared interest of SCO member states in promoting peace and stability for global economic development. He urged the vigorous fight against terrorism and extremism in all their forms, while avoiding its use as a diplomatic weapon.
Condemnation of Terrorism and Protection of Religious Minorities
PM Shehbaz highlighted the importance of condemning terrorism unequivocally, including state-sponsored terrorism, without any justifications for the killing of innocent people. He stressed the need to avoid demonizing religious minorities for political gain and acknowledged Pakistan’s relentless efforts in combating terrorism. However, he also acknowledged that terrorism remains a significant obstacle to maintaining peace and stability in the region. He called for immediate and collective actions from SCO member countries to combat terrorism, extremism, and separatism.
Pursuing Meaningful Engagement with Afghanistan for Peace
During his speech, Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasized the significance of stability in Afghanistan for regional peace and prosperity. He expressed concerns over the unmet expectations and the critical support required by Afghanistan to prevent a humanitarian crisis, economic collapse, and combat terrorism. PM Shehbaz urged the international community to engage with the interim Afghan government, while also urging Afghanistan to take measures to prevent its territory from being used for terrorism. He highlighted the potential economic benefits for both Afghanistan and the SCO region if peace and stability are achieved.
Climate Change and Global Solidarity
Drawing attention to the urgency posed by climate change, Shehbaz emphasized the need for global solidarity and a comprehensive response to address climate-induced disasters. He shared the devastating impact of climate change in Pakistan, particularly the destructive floods that caused loss of life and economic damage. Pakistan is committed to building a sustainable and nature-positive world for future generations. PM Shehbaz called on developed countries to fulfill their commitments and provide enhanced support to developing nations in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Poverty Alleviation and Fundamental Rights for Sustainable Peace
PM Shehbaz recognized poverty alleviation and the guarantee of fundamental rights and freedoms as crucial factors in achieving sustainable peace. He highlighted the challenges posed by increased military tensions, soaring energy and food prices, and the economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Closer cooperation among SCO member countries is necessary to address poverty alleviation effectively. Shehbaz emphasized the need to replace violent ultra-nationalism and xenophobic ideologies, such as Islamophobia, with peace and communal harmony. He urged the SCO to oppose divisive policies based on prejudice and discrimination, advocating for the observance of universally recognized principles within the organization’s borders.
Connectivity as a Driver of Economic Integration
The Prime Minister acknowledged the significance of connectivity in the modern global economy and its role in promoting peace and prosperity. He highlighted the importance of investing in connectivity to achieve the shared vision of an economically integrated region. Shehbaz mentioned the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a game-changer for connectivity, stability, peace, and prosperity in the entire region. Pakistan’s strategic location provides a natural bridge connecting Europe, Central Asia, China, South Asia, and the Middle East. He emphasized the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) under the CPEC framework and Pakistan’s plan to host an SCO conference on transport connectivity for regional prosperity in late 2023.
Prime Minister Shehbaz expressed gratitude to India for hosting the virtual summit and welcomed new members and dialogue partners within the SCO. The participation of Pakistan in the summit reflects its high regard for the organization and its commitment to regional security and prosperity. As the SCO assumes a crucial role in addressing various regional challenges, including terrorism, stability in Afghanistan, climate change, poverty alleviation, and connectivity, it serves as a beacon of stability, security, peace, and progress in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.