Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Ambassador Zhang Ming, called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in Lahore today.

The Prime Minister warmly felicitated the Secretary General on taking up his important assignment and assured him of Pakistan’s full support in the fulfillment of the purposes and objectives of the Organization, under his stewardship. The Prime Minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to the principles of the SCO Charter and the “Shanghai Spirit.”

The Prime Minister highlighted the current global challenges manifested in the high fuel and food prices and the resultant food insecurity as well as economic and financial difficulties for a large number of countries including SCO members. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that all SCO members would continue to work together for building peace and enhancing international solidarity and cooperation.

Appreciating the comprehensive development agenda of SCO, the Prime Minister emphasized that the core purpose of the SCO remained the growth and prosperity of the SCO region and how well the SCO leaders were responding to the aspirations and ambitions of their people to have better standards of living.

The Prime Minister underlined Pakistan’s priorities and national development goals as well as important areas of interest within the SCO framework of cooperation -- including trade and economy; connectivity & transport; poverty alleviation; energy; agriculture and food security; climate change; security; Information Technology; digitalization; and cultural and people-to-people linkages. The Prime Minister underlined the need for developing appropriate funding mechanisms to promote intra-SCO trade as well as development initiatives.

Stressing the enhancement of transport and communication links, the Prime Minister underscored the  importance of connectivity agenda and, in this regard, also highlighted that the CPEC could serve as a useful model in its facilitation.

The Prime Minister also shared his perspective on a number of specific regional and global security issues as well as SCO’s role in promoting stability in the region and beyond. In this context, he also appreciated the work of SCO-RATS where Pakistan, together with other member states, was playing an active role in countering common security challenges.

The Secretary General expressed his sincere gratitude to the Government and leadership of Pakistan for arranging his visit before the upcoming SCO Council of Foreign Ministers and Heads of State meetings in Uzbekistan. The Secretary General lauded Pakistan’s constructive contributions to SCO’s work and activities across all domains and thanked the Prime Minister for the guidance provided with regard to SCO’s priorities and endeavours in the future.

The Secretary General highlighted the invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the SCO Summit in Samarkand in September 2022. The Prime Minister stated that he was looking forward to participate in the Summit.

SCO is an 8-member trans-regional multilateral Organization, based on the “Shanghai Spirit” which stands for mutual trust and respect, equality, respect for diverse civilizations, and pursuit of shared development. In the two decades since its establishment, SCO has become a major international  platform representing 41% of the world population with a 23% share in global GDP.

The four day visit of the SCO Secretary General has provided an important opportunity for consultations at the highest level and greater understanding of Pakistan’s expectations from the Organization.