Zardari at SCO summit

PLEADING forcefully the case of Pakistans inclusion in the ranks of the Shanghai Cooperation Council as a full-fledged member, President Zardari observed at its 10th Summit at Tashkent on Friday that Pakistan was the gateway to the landlocked Central Asian States to provide access to them to a major part of the world through the shortest route. An easier approach could, obviously, facilitate interaction with the outside world and promote economic development. Mr Zardari was absolutely right also to stress the countrys strategic location, and so were his views that economic and commercial cooperation among SCO, of which Pakistan was a part and parcel, could spell a radical change for the better in the lives of people in the region. Such cooperation would obviously be more feasible and more result-oriented once Pakistan becomes its full-fledged member. The Summit adopted guidelines that would make it possible for Pakistan and India, currently both observers, to become SCO members, but as a Chinese diplomat attending the conference remarked, it is only one percent of the way they have covered; Iran would find itself left out because of the iniquitous UNSC sanctions. The present membership consists of the CAS, China and Russia. A sizeable part of Mr Zardaris address was devoted to the twin menaces of extremism and terrorism and what, in his view, was their root cause. Abject poverty could be a contributory factor to the strengthening of the forces of terrorism since the poor are more likely to fall to the temptation of monetary gain that they would make by joining the ranks of terrorists. But certainly, the President should know, the roots of terrorism lie elsewhere: in the centuries old exploitation of the defenceless, resource-rich countries by the imperialist West, and, in the present time, the same aggressive exploitation under the pretext of terrorism. Unless the root cause of that persistent injustice is removed, which, in simpler terms, would mean not only the vacation of aggression from Afghanistan and Iraq, but also abandoning the control of resources of weaker states and ensuring political and economic justice to the oppressed nations. Osama bin Laden, who is accused of setting off the present-day wave of terrorism, prompting the US to wage a war against it, specifically pointed to the Wests exploitation of Arab resources and Israels brutal ways and illegal occupation of Palestine, as his main grievances. The Zardari government should be spending more of its energies to convince the US to get out of the region and let the forces from within restore peace and manage resources. And, as a first step, he should be picking up the courage to withdraw its support to the so-called war. The most significant outcome for Pakistan would be an automatic unwinding of the terrorist coil.

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