PM Imran continues fight against Islamophobia at SCO-CHS conference | Pakistan Today

PM Imran continues fight against Islamophobia at SCO-CHS conference

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his address at the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS), spoke against the rise of Islamophobia in the world.

“It is critical to address terrorism in all its forms,” the premier said. “We must also continue to steadfastly oppose extremist and xenophobic tendencies — including racist ideologies inspired by neo-Nazis — and Islamophobia.”

In his remarks during the Summit meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan shared Pakistan’s perspective on a range of global and regional issues – including Covid-19, multilateralism and United Nations’ (UN) role, need for implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions for peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes, Afghan peace process, countering terrorism, combating Islamophobia, stemming illicit financial flows, addressing climate change, poverty alleviation and role of youth.

PM Imran, while stressing on the need for “mutual respect for all religions and beliefs”, urged the SCO member countries to work together to put an end to the discriminatory policies and to improve inter-faith relations across the globe.

The premier spoke on Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism while highlighting its role in the organisation’s multi-sectoral agenda for regional peace and security.

Last month, PM Imran had posted a letter on Twitter against the French President Macron’s actions in the face of blasphemous caricatures of Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) being shared.

“In Europe, mosques are being closed, Muslim women are being denied their right to wear clothing of their choice in the public domain even as nuns and priests continue to display their religious clothing, and covert and overt discrimination is widespread against Muslims living in those countries,” he had written while urging leaders of Muslim states to “collectively take the lead in breaking this cycle of hate and extremism”.

In September, PM Imran called on the UN to declare an international day to combat Islamophobia in his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) address.

He stressed the importance of providing relief to the poor segments of society. In this context, he thanked all members for supporting Pakistan’s initiative for the establishment of an SCO Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation.

“We are thankful to all the SCO members for helping us in this regard,” he said.

PM Imran also highlighted that Pakistan stands with the SCO’s commitment towards climate change, noting that the South-Asian country has been “mitigating the adverse effects of climate change” through different initiatives.

“We have launched an ecosystem restoration initiative under which we plan to plant 10 billion trees in the country,” he said.

Furthermore, the premier highlighted the importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration, saying that CPEC is complementing SCO’s pivotal role in the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union.

The prime minister underscored the imperative of common approaches to limit the spread of infectious diseases, ameliorate their effects, and develop potential remedies.

He emphasised the central role of WHO in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and offered to share Pakistan’s experience in combating the pandemic in an effective manner.

He appreciated China’s effective handling of the pandemic and thanked China for extending material and technical support to other countries, including Pakistan, in their efforts to contain the virus. The prime minister also highlighted China-Pakistan collaboration in vaccine development.

He highlighted his “Global Initiative for Debt Relief” for developing countries to mitigate adverse economic effects of the pandemic. Welcoming measures taken by G20, the prime minister stressed the need for further steps to help improve liquidity in developing countries and restore growth.

PM Imran reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the central role of the UN in maintaining international peace and security and advancing global sustainable development.

He particularly stressed the importance of faithful implementation of the UNSC resolutions as a pre-requisite for creating an environment of stability and cooperation. PM Imran called for strong condemnation and resolute opposition of unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UNSC resolutions.

On the occasion, he reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and warned against the role of “spoilers” both within and outside Afghanistan. He stressed that the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour should be an essential part of the peace negotiations.

PM Imran had been invited to attend the conference via video link by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The other countries in attendance included China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The SCO’s major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and strong, neighbourly relations among member states, strengthening regional peace, security and stability, and creating a framework for effective cooperation in political, cultural, trade and economy, science and technology, education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]