PM gives roadmap for enhanced SCO economic cooperation, social, infrastructure connectivity

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday proposed an eight-pronged course of action for Shanghai Cooperation Organization calling for a peaceful co-existence, regional trade, soft and infrastructure connectivity and a framework against corruption and white collar crimes among the member states.

Addressing the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Bishkek, the prime minister suggested the reinforcement of the SCO’s vision of cooperation rejecting the confrontation and to advance the imperatives of peaceful co-existence at the regional and international levels.

At the invitation of Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the prime minister attended the summit besides leaders from member countries including China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Moreover, the leaders from SCO Observers countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Belarus and Mongolia also attended the event.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov chaired the meeting held in both narrow and extended formats.

In his address, the prime minister called for galvanizing the “Shanghai Spirit” to strengthen SCO’s core mandate of mitigating the risks of conflict, fostering confidence and promoting stability.

He emphasized upon the early finalization of arrangements for trade in local currencies and set up SCO Fund and SCO Development Bank to catalyze the trans-regional development agenda.

He said the SCO states must synergize the various region-wide connectivity initiatives and work on complementing infrastructure connectivity with soft connectivity, including digital, cultural, touristic and academic.

The prime minister also proposed setting up of SCO Culture and Tourism Corridors, clustering multiple SCO destinations into a single package.

Calling for making SCO more relevant to the daily lives of citizens by promoting food security and enhancing cooperation in health and humanitarian sectors, he asked the organization to take the lead role in establishing a comprehensive framework for combating corruption and white collar crime to prevent the laundering of billions of dollars through offshore accounts.

He stressed upon prioritizing women and youth empowerment by focusing on strengthening the Women Forum and the Youth Council and mandating them to promote gender mainstreaming, skills acquisition and jobs mobility.

Premier Imran also called for bridging the gap between region-specific research and policy by launching feasibility studies for creating SCO Centres of Excellence on Poverty Alleviation, De-radicalization, Connectivity, and New Technologies.

Terming Kyrgyz republic as pearl of SCO region for its natural beauty and rich traditions, the prime minister thanked the Kyrgyz leadership for gracious hospitality and congratulated the country for its excellent stewardship of SCO since the historic Qingdao Summit in China last year.

He said as the Russian Federation takes the baton as next SCO chair, Pakistan was confident that Organization’s onward march would continue apace.

He said though Pakistan was new to SCO, it had historic ties with the nations and countries represented in the summit.