Speakers Highlight Regional Significance of SCO

Fri Feb 23 2024
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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a round table discussion on Friday underscored the significance of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a trans-regional platform.

China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) hosted a roundtable discussion, titled “Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Pakistan’s Policy, Priorities and Opportunities”, said an ISSI press release.

Ambassador (R) Babar Amin, Pakistan’s first-ever National Coordinator for SCO, in his keynote address, outlined Pakistan’s strategic objectives within the Organization.

He highlighted Pakistan’s efforts to enhance bilateral ties with Russia through the SCO platform and stressed the importance of connectivity and infrastructure development, particularly in addressing energy crises.

He added that Pakistan can act as a natural partner with SCO for promoting connectivity, trade and economic cooperation in the region.

He strongly believed that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) aligns naturally with goals of SCO for regional connectivity and promotion of trade. The ambassador said that Pakistan can also help SCO member states in the area of security cooperation because of its extensive counter-terrorism experience.

Ambassador Babar Amin said that by actively participating in SCO meetings and initiatives, Pakistan aims to enhance its historical ties with Central Asia and further solidify its comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with China.

He noted that the key strategic priorities for Pakistan within the SCO include establishing itself as a credible partner, particularly in contrast to India’s selective engagement with Western preferences.

Pakistan prepares to take leading role in SCO

Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, in his remarks underscored the importance of SCO as a trans-regional platform. He said that Pakistan prepares to take a leading role in the Organization.

He went on to say the challenges should be kept in view regarding SCO’s objectives and role in future. He noted that since its inception in 2001, SCO has grown into a family of 26 nations, including member states, observers and dialogue partners.

He said the SCO accounts for 60% Eurasian landmass 40% of global population, and nearly 30% of global GDP.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood further added that Pakistan has considered SCO as an important platform from the outset and the country’s forthcoming responsibilities in various Councils as well as the top decision-making body, the Council of Heads of State, entails important opportunities for forwarding SCO’s objectives of regional peace and stability.

Dr. Liaqat Ali Shah, Executive Director of the Centre of Excellence for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said the multi-layered nature of SCO’s agenda, aligning with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

He stressed the potential for cooperation between SCO and BRI, and in extension, with CPEC, is significant to promote regional integration. He also underscored the need for inclusivity and multilateral participation in economic collaboration at the SCO forum.

Dr. Shazia Ghani, Senior Research Associate at the Grenoble Centre of Research on Economy, France, addressing the challenges and opportunities of financial integration within the SCO, underlined the importance of understanding the varied economies of SCO member states and the need for exportable surplus to effectively leverage economic potential.

Enhanced economic ties with regional states stressed

Prof. Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Chairman of the Department of International Relations at the University of Peshawar, stressed the dominance of economics over traditional security paradigms. He underscored the need for greater economic ties with regional and neighboring states and stressed the importance of boosting regional connectivity.

He was of the view that multilateral platforms like SCO can facilitate dialogue and discussion among adversarial actors.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Director of China Pakistan Study Centre Dr. Talat Shabbir highlighted Pakistan’s upcoming assumption of the rotating annual chairs for the SCO’s governing bodies.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman of the Board of Governors at ISSI, in his concluding remarks, emphasized the dual focus of the SCO on economy and security, likening it to a cart with two wheels.

The discussion gave valuable insights into Pakistan’s upcoming vital l role in the SCO in the run-up to Council of Heads of Government (CHG) conference to be hosted by Pakistan.


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