Pakistan eliminated terrorism at a monumental cost: Dastgir

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RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir said on Wednesday that Pakistan had eliminated terrorism from its soil at a monumental cost in blood of its soldiers and citizens.

“We have suffered economic losses in excess of US $120 billion in our war against terror. Through its elected government and Parliament, Pakistan has adopted a comprehensive National Action Plan to combat terrorism in the non-kinetic realm,” according to a press release issued here by Ministry of Defence.

The minister stated this while addressing the 15th Defence Ministers Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Beijing.

This was the first assembly of the SCO Defence Ministers after the organisation was expanded in 2017 for the first time to add India and Pakistan as full members.

Chinese State Councilor and Minister for Defence, Gen Wei Fenghe chaired the meeting.

Dastgir headed the Pakistan delegation that included Director General of Joint Staff (DGJS) Lt Gen Zafar Malik, SCO DG, Zahoor Ahmed from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Brig Ahmed Bilal, Pakistan’s Defence Attaché in Beijing.

The minister indicated continuing turmoil in Afghanistan, including the presence of ISIS, as a source of insecurity for its neighbours and for the entire region.

“Serious challenges facing the region include violent extremism, poverty, lack of trans-boundary water management, drug trafficking, refugees, human trafficking, and border controls,” said the minister.

He acknowledged the existence of bilateral issues between SCO members, but asserted that these should “never be allowed to impede our collective work”.

He encouraged his counterparts to face collective challenges with “courage, harmony and cooperation.

In his first official SCO meeting, the minister signed a communiqué with other participants. The communiqué offered support for the “Shanghai Spirit” of building a shared community with peace and stability, development and prosperity.

Defence ministers from the SCO member states including those from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India attended the meeting. Defence Minister of Belarus attended as an Observer.