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Constructive engagement required to mitigate Afghan’s suffering: FM

Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan would continue to work with Afghanistan. Source: FILE.

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said all member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) face multifaceted challenges of poverty, food security, and climate change, which could be addressed through an inclusive approach.

In his virtual address to the leaders at the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting held in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, the foreign minister said SCO’s emphasis on cooperation and conflict resolution offered hope to humanity.

Prime Minister of host country Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, Secretary-General SCO Vladimir Norov and heads of government of SCO member states and observers joined the meeting.

Terming SCO a model of shared growth and prosperity, the foreign minister said ​it provided an attractive platform for inter-state cooperation in diverse fields including economy, security, connectivity and sustainable development.

FM Qureshi said regional security was a must for the realization of the collective vision for prosperity and economic growth of the region. ​In this context, stability in Afghanistan was of critical importance for all owing to the geographic compulsions and enduring ties to the people of Afghanistan.

In the last few months, he said Afghanistan had undergone a fundamental transformation as its people faced critical economic and humanitarian challenges. He urged the international community to engage constructively to mitigate the sufferings of Afghans.

The foreign minister said ​Pakistan continued to assist its Afghan brethren in their hour of need by, inter-alia, contributing towards Afghanistan’s socio-economic development through support in health, education, and training, enhancing transit trade facilities for goods from Afghanistan, and the abolition of tariff on Afghan goods.

He said Pakistan would continue to work with Afghanistan, bilaterally and in collaboration with partners, to promote the values of inclusiveness, respect for the rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil would never be used by terrorists against any country.​

Qureshi said the agenda of the SCO meeting focused on practical steps that would further the collective desire for greater progress in economic, trade, and humanitarian spheres.

He mentioned that Pakistan supported the proposal for increasing the number of deputies in the Secretariat and the Executive Committee from the current five to six, besides supporting the budget proposed for 2022 with an increase of approximately 10 percent.

The foreign minister said ​Pakistan had rich experience in launching successful initiatives to alleviate poverty and ensuring food security for the growing population.

He welcomed the initiatives on ‘smart’ agriculture and the introduction of agro-innovation aimed at ensuring uninterrupted flow of agro-industrial products to maintain food security and socio-economic stability within the SCO region. He emphasised enhanced interaction among members of the Business Council, and entrepreneurs from the SCO region.

Pakistan has consistently drawn attention to this critical aspect. Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a conference on ‘Transport connectivity for regional prosperity’ which Pakistan will be hosting in the second half of 2022.

​Qureshi said Pakistan has focused on the empowerment of youth, for which the country will host a conference on ‘Youth Empowerment through Digital Economy’ in 2022, as announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Dushanbe.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolute commitment to continue to advance SCO’s goals and objectives. This stems from our unshakable belief in multilateralism as the most effective way to address challenges and realize opportunities, he concluded.

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