BEIJING: Pakistan has consistently advocated dialogue and peaceful means for conflict resolutions between member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the same principle applies as far as Pakistan’s relations with India are concerned, Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khalid said on Wednesday.
“Pakistan and India joined the SCO at the same time last year. We follow the Shanghai Spirit of cooperation and building trust. This has been the guiding principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy, which also guides us in the SCO,” he told Beijing Review while responding to a question whether SCO could help narrow the differences and improve relations between India and Pakistan.
When asked how could Pakistan benefit from joining SCO and what kind of role could Pakistan play in the organization, he said Pakistan had been an observer of the SCO since 2005. In 2017 at the Astana Summit, Pakistan became a member.
The cooperation in the SCO focuses on issues of security, politics, economy and culture. Pakistan had been playing a constructive role in all these areas since its observer membership and had been regularly attending the events held by the organization, he added.
Pakistan had been at the frontline of the fight against terrorism, he said and added, “During the war on terror, we have suffered greatly in terms of both human and economic loss. Our experience in counter-terrorism operations can be shared with the SCO community so as to improve the security situation in our region.”
The ambassador informed that Pakistan was at the confluence of Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and South Asia. “We can connect 86 percent of the world’s population through enhanced connectivity and improved transportation links.” Pakistan as a culturally rich country had a strong culture and common heritage links with SCO member states and could cooperate in the promotion of SCO culture in the region and the world at large, he said.
Ambassador Khalid said the organization was home to approximately half of the world’s population. Pakistan’s membership in the SCO has provided it with a platform to interact more closely with Central Asian states and Russia. “Of course, with China, we have traditionally had an all-weather, strategic, cooperative partnership. Cooperating with this region will benefit Pakistan’s security, accelerate its economic growth, enhance its connectivity and promote its people-to-people ties with the region,” he added.
Sharing his insight on Pakistan’s role in future regional security, he said it should be very clear that the SCO is not opposed to any country or organisation. The SCO has achieved significant milestones in promoting regional peace and security since its inception in 2001.
The regional anti-terrorist structure of the SCO had played an important part in improving the overall security environment of the region. In the field of security, terrorism poses a serious challenge. Terrorism has mutated, both in form and in terms of the tools at the disposal of terrorists. We need to address both symptoms and root causes of this security threat and focus our efforts.
He said the Afghan contact group is another important step toward improving the peace and security of the region. By helping Afghanistan in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, SCO member states are contributing to the improvement of the overall security environment. Ambassador Khalid said the mechanisms of the Council of Ministers of Defense and Secretaries of National Security of SCO Member States are helpful in synergizing our efforts.
The Peace Mission exercises and other platforms of military-to-military interaction would improve the capabilities of law enforcement agencies in tackling traditional and non-traditional threats to peace and security, he added. He said all four areas of cooperation under the SCO were vital and interconnected. The first and foremost area of importance, however, is security.
“We should also keep in mind that poverty breeds violence whereas development and prosperity promote peace and harmony. Economic development and interconnectedness have proven an effective tool in addressing security threats.” In order to improve the living standards of our people, there is a dire need to promote cooperation in the economic field.
SCO member states need to promote regional connectivity initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative. There should be concerted efforts for the establishment of a fair and rational international political and economic order upholding the goals and principles of the UN Charter.
He opined the people-to-people cooperation is another area where significant potential for cooperation exists. Promoting intra-SCO tourism will help the peoples of the region understand each other better and create more job opportunities.