ISLAMABAD    -  Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, represented Pakistan in the 19th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Heads of Government Council held via video conference on Monday.

The Parliamentary Secretary highlighted the importance of SCO for Pakistan in achieving regional peace and stability and development of closer ties with regional partners through multi-faceted linkages and connectivity. She underscored the imperative of creating a safe and secure neighbourhood. 

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. 

Andleeb Abbas emphasized 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. 

The Parliamentary Secretary said Pakistan valued the SCO region as a pivotal link for regional connectivity and integration. “Connectivity projects under CPEC, industrial parks and energy projects are laying the future of a prosperous and globally-connected region,” she added. 

In the context of climate change, the Parliamentary Secretary apprised the forum about the “Ecosystem Restoration Initiative” of the Prime Minister, which included planting of 10 billion trees over the next three years. 

The Parliamentary Secretary also thanked member states for supporting Pakistan’s initiative for creating a Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation. It will provide an opportunity for sharing of experiences and exchange of ideas between SCO member states. 

Andleeb Abbas reiterated Prime Minister Imran 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. 

She 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. Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had participated in the SCO Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS), which is the highest forum of SCO, held in virtual format on November 10 2020. 

SCO has immense potential for fostering a conducive environment for regional stability, security and comprehensive economic development. 

The SCO provides Pakistan a platform for increased engagement with key global and regional partners and build further linkages with Central Asia.