Islamabad, November 10, 2020 (PPI-OT): His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Excellencies, It is a pleasure to participate in the SCO Summit being hosted by the Russian Federation. I wish to particularly congratulate President Putin for successfully leading SCO during these extremely troubled times. We welcome Tajikistan as the next Chair of SCO and assure them of our full support. As we speak, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world; devastating economies, claiming lives and disrupting livelihoods. Over 50 million people have been infected by the virus and more than 1.2 million have lost their lives. The limitations posed by the virus are affecting all aspects of human interaction, including public health and the global economy.
While progress has just been reported in vaccine research, it is unclear as to when the vaccine will become universally available. The possibility of a slow recovery and prolonged economic slump – with rising poverty and inequality – also looms large. Under the circumstances, the imperative of common approaches to limit the spread of infectious diseases, reduce their effects, and develop potential remedies has increased manifold. Yet, global harmony and multilateralism are undermined by rising geopolitical tensions, unilateralism and isolationism. We believe that the SCO fraternity, with its core principles of solidarity and mutual support, would be effective in combating the effects of COVID-19.
Excellencies, this year’s CHS coincides with completion of 20 years of the establishment of the SCO. Over the past two decades, SCO’s prestige and influence have grown significantly. At a time, when the world is bereft of global vision and shared solutions, SCO has called for effective multilateralism with the UN, playing a central coordinating role. Pakistan also deeply appreciates China’s effective handling of the virus and also the material and technical assistance extended by China to others, including Pakistan. China and Pakistan are also collaborating in vaccine development, with phase three trials successfully underway. On its part, Pakistan is open to sharing its own experience in effectively combating the pandemic and keeping the total cases and fatalities relatively low.
Our calibrated policy of ‘smart lockdowns’ and financial support to the most vulnerable segments of society prevented rapid community spread, protected the poorest from the worst fallouts of the lockdown and helped stabilize the economy. Our aim has been to save people from dying from the virus, and save people from dying from hunger. Globally, the international community has taken some welcome steps to mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19. But much more needs to be done – particularly for the poor who are hit the hardest, both in rich and poor nations. In this spirit, I proposed a “Global Initiative for Debt Relief” to address debt vulnerabilities of the developing nations and to help create fiscal space for them to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and achieve sustainable development.
We welcome measures taken from G20 and the International Financial Institutions to help developing countries, in particular Least Developed Countries, to face economic challenges posed by the pandemic. Further steps are needed to help improve liquidity in developing countries and restore growth. Excellencies, The foreign policy goals of my government are in sync with SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration. SCO is destined to play a pivotal role in the emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Pakistan’s geographical location provides it an ideal opportunity to crystallize the benefits accrued from this process.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of BRI, is poised to play a vital part in this regard. Excellencies, The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was established to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian continent, join forces to counter emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade as well as cultural cooperation. SCO stands for strict observance of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter such as equality and sovereignty of states, respect for territorial integrity, sanctity of borders, non-aggression, non-use or threat of force, and peoples’ right for self-determination.
On the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, we strongly support the central role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security and advancing global sustainable development. We stress the importance of faithfully implementing UN Security Council Resolutions for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes to create an environment of stability and cooperation. Unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions run counter to this objective and adversely affect the regional environment. Such measures must be condemned and opposed resolutely for being in violation of the SCO Charter and its well-established principles of inter-state relations.
Excellencies, I have consistently stressed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political settlement is the best way forward. As a shared responsibility, Pakistan has steadfastly supported the Afghan-led and the Afghan-owned peace process. Our positive contribution facilitated the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement. The Afghan parties must seize this historic opportunity, work together constructively, and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement through Intra-Afghan negotiations. Reduction in violence is absolutely imperative, which will help strengthen the momentum of recent positive developments.
We must also remain mindful of the challenges ahead, especially the role of “spoilers” — within and outside –who do not want peace and stability to return to Afghanistan. Return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour should be an essential part of the peace negotiations. On the Iranian nuclear issue, we share SCO’s call for effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We join our SCO partners in focusing on the prevention of an arms race in outer space and International Information Security.
The overarching goal of the international security architecture should be the promotion of equal and undiminished security of all States. We welcome the emphasis by SCO members on data security. In this regard, we strongly support China’s Global Digital Data Security Initiative. We reiterate our strong support for coordinating our efforts at the relevant multilateral fora to counter the growing menace of narcotic drugs. Excellencies, Pakistan has been at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism.
Our resolve to continue this fight remains undeterred. We believe it is wrong to use terrorism-related allegations as a political tool to malign and target any country, religion or race. It is critical to address the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State terrorism perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories. As we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of defeat of Nazism and Fascism during the Second World War, we must learn lessons from history and work to ensure against the resurgence of such destructive ideologies.
We must also continue to steadfastly oppose extremist and xenophobic tendencies, including racist ideologies inspired by neo-Nazism and Islamophobia. We must resolutely oppose divisive policies based on prejudice and discrimination and focus on building interfaith and cross-cultural bridges. It is imperative that wilful provocations and incitement to hate, especially on religious grounds, are universally outlawed. Deliberately insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to further polarization and fragmentation of society.
Therefore, SCO member states should continue to call for mutual respect of all religions and beliefs and for fostering a culture of peace, fraternity and harmony. Excellencies, My government is particularly focused on providing relief to the poor segments of the society. We have learned valuable lessons from China, which has lifted 700 million people out of poverty. In this context, we thank all members for supporting our initiative for establishment of an SCO Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation. We must pool our efforts to fight the threat posed by climate change.
In all our efforts, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities remains paramount. It is important that all commitments made in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are fulfilled, in particular the commitment to mobilize $ 100 billion annually as climate finance. On its part, Pakistan is making renewed efforts to mitigate adverse effects of climate change. We have launched an “Ecosystem Restoration Initiative” which includes the planting of 10 Billion trees over the next three years.
Fighting corruption and economic crimes is another important area of focus for my government. We welcome SCO’s emphasis on strengthening international cooperation in fighting these menaces. We must firmly oppose illicit financial flows from developing countries, which impoverish these nations and severely retard their development endeavours. Efforts must be made to bring back the stolen wealth to enable the affected nations realize their legitimate aspirations for development and a hopeful future.
I would also like to express Pakistan’s gratification on becoming a member of the SCO Youth Council. With sixty-five percent of our population under 30 years of age, Pakistan highly values cooperation in tapping the immense potential of our youth and involving them in the socio-economic uplift of our societies. Excellencies, going forward, I would like to make six specific proposals aimed at galvanizing our mutually-beneficial, result-oriented efforts through SCO’s platform: First We should create an SCO knowledge-bank of best practices to fight COVID-19 in order to guide us through the second wave and beyond.
Second we should work out a Strategy and an SCO Action Plan to mitigate the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the short, medium and long-term, including by prioritizing an SCO unified framework for emergency preparedness developed in consultation with WHO. Third we should take a united stand that the COVID-19 vaccine must be viewed as a “global public good”, affordable and accessible to all. Fourth we should call for more measures by G20 to meet common challenges like the climate change, deteriorating environment, widening inequality within and among nations, poverty, disease, hunger and sustainable development.
This should include measures to stop financial outflows from developing countries to off-shore bank accounts in rich countries. Fifth we should formulate a multi-year SCO Youth Strategy with a focus on building partnerships among educational institutions. Sixth we should develop SCO Partnership for Technology offering scholarships and exchange programmes for youth in the scientific field.
I wish this meeting all the success.
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