Pakistan to work together with SCO for regional peace: Zardari

June 15. APP. ASTANA

Pakistan to work together with SCO for regional peace: ZardariPresident Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday said Pakistan will work together with member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for maintaining regional peace, spreading shared prosperity and defeating terrorism.

Addressing the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at its 10th anniversary in the capital of Kazakhstan, President Zardari said, “Pakistan looks forward to working together with the SCO countries for achieving shared prosperity and peace.”

He said Pakistan has made great sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and militancy, which pose common threats to the region.

President Zardari, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Interior Minister A Rehman Malik and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, said, “Pakistan is committed to combating terrorism, extremism and separatism.”

“Similarly, drug trafficking and production is not only harming our people but also fuelling militancy and terrorism. These are serious threats to the security and well-being of our societies,” he remarked.

He said Pakistan looks forward to enhancing its cooperation with the SCO to eliminate this menace from the region.

At present SCO has six members including China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, four observer states Pakistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and two dialogue partners Sri Lanka and Belarus.

President Zardari expressed the hope that Pakistan’s application for full membership will be processed expeditiously.

“In the meantime, Pakistan intends to fully associate with all SCO programs for peace and development. Pakistan wishes to participate in SCO’s initiatives in promoting regional and trans-regional connectivity and trade,” he said adding, “We wish to cooperate with countries in the region in financial and banking sectors and for joint ventures in energy, infrastructure and education, scientific and technological development programs.”

He praised SCO for making significant contributions towards peace and development of the region in the last decade.

“Pakistan is delighted to associate itself fully with the ideals, values and purposes of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We share the SCO’s vision for the future. We uphold its objectives of regional peace and development.”

President Zardari said Pakistan belongs to the SCO region. “We share with its peoples, centuries of common history. Apart from our geographical location, the geo-economic realities also encourage

Pakistan to join the SCO as a full member.”

“We, therefore, take pride in the remarkable achievements of the SCO over the last ten years. Our destinies are inter-linked.”

He expressed his pleasure that Afghanistan has decided to seek observer status with SCO. “This indeed is a welcome development. President Karzai paid an important visit to Islamabad recently and we had excellent discussions on the way forward.”

President Zardari informed heads of states at the summit that the two countries agreed to cooperate in fighting terror and in promoting regional connectivity and economic and trade cooperation.

“We agreed that the way forward to entering in a new era of peace and prosperity is pragmatic cooperation.”

Calling the summit historic, the President said he wanted to convey to all friends and partners in the SCO, Pakistan’s firm resolve to work with them for the common goal of ensuring a bright future for their peoples.

In their speeches at the summit, SCO leaders pledged to continue efforts for keeping their region safe and secure and make their countries more prosperous through joint efforts.

In his opening address, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev who chaired the SCO summit said SCO has undergone transformation since its founding in Shanghai in 2001 and has immensely contributed to regional security and development.

“We have increased economic collaboration, expanded regional trade by seven times and are working on communication projects connecting Asia to Europe.”

He underlined the need for expanding collaboration between SCO states in areas of education, healthcare, environment, food security, training and peace missions.

He lauded efforts of SCO to boosting the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Nazarbayev stressed on setting up new institutional frameworks for countering terrorism, extremism, narco trade and cyber crimes and for improving border security by adopting new technologies.

He said global security remains a challenge for governments and SCO can collaborate with other international organizations to maintain peace and stability.

Referring to a project of 8,700 kilometres long highway connecting various parts of Asia and Europe, the Kazakh President emphasized on the need to tap the potential of the region in oil and gas and hydro resources.

He called for reforms in the international financial architecture by promoting use of gold as reserve commodity and currency swap agreements.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said SCO is at a pivotal moment as it is in the forefront of fostering peace and development in the world.

He called for strengthening the institutional mechanisms like SCO’s anti-terrorism structure, holding of more counter terrorism exercises at regional level and concerted efforts against organized crime.

“We have created a new model for state to state relations and lasting peace. We have acted in the Shanghai spirit by finding common grounds and working in harmony for regional peace,” he noted.

Hu Jintao said “China pledged more than 12 billion dollars of concessional loans for projects in SCO countries and actively participated in the reconstruction of Afghanistan”.

“China will continue to provide loans for projects in countries related to SCO, which has emerged as a guarantor of regional peace. Furthering peace, development, stability and security are hallmarks of SCO.”

He said, “We should stay committed to building a harmonious region and strengthen mechanisms of consultation to increase mutual trust.”

“We should continue building regional infrastructure, communication and energy projects. We should increase people to people contacts and cultural exchanges and build infrastructure for educational and health services and tourism.”

He said China will back increased collaboration of SCO with international organizations.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said SCO is a prestigious organization on issues of regional security and it has consistently acted against threats to security of the member countries.

He also endorsed proposals of other SCO leaders for enforcing the counter terrorism structures and joint military exercises.

Medvedev said Russia wants more intense and close cooperation between SCO and Afghanistan, whose participation in their regional grouping carries great significance. “Security in Afghanistan affects security in our countries.”

The Russian President said joint ventures and joint account of SCO will be set up to carry out feasibility studies of major development projects.

He said SCO University project should be expanded so that youth can get more opportunities in areas of science, technology and sports.

He mentioned the approval of a memorandum on obligations of countries which had applied for membership of SCO. The memorandum will pave the way for a round of negotiations before SCO Heads of Council takes a final decision next time to grant membership to Iran, Pakistan and India.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in his speech emphasized for united efforts in reconstruction of Afghanisan.

He said SCO should deepen and broaden its economic cooperation and increase opportunities for exchanges between businessmen and private sectors of the countries.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said the region has geo-political and strategic significance and has vast natural resources.

He stressed on resolving the conflict in Afghanistan through a political settlement, which will certainly promote regional stability and socio economic progress in Afghanistan.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the problems of the present day are due to vestiges of colonialism, wars and tendencies of hegemony and expansion. He said SCO has the capability to create a better future by following the “Shanghai spirit” of good neighbourly relations and friendship.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Afghanisan is going through a process of transition and it is determined to take full responsibility for its security from United States and allied forces during 2014.

He said cooperation with the international community and neighbours has brought tangible profits for Afghanistan in form of better facilities of health, education and improved infrastructure.

President Karzai said SCO has enormous potential and future of Afghanistan is tied to the growing regional economies. He invited investors to extract the mineral wealth of Afghanistan and play their role in building the war torn country.

Referring to riots in her country, President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva thanked the SCO countries for helping her country ensure its stability in difficult times.

She said it will be important for SCO to establish permanent mechanisms to settle disputes in the region. She endorsed the idea of establishing and strengthening border security through collective security measures.

The Kyrgyz President said the anti-drugs strategy of SCO will help in curbing the menace of narco trade in the area. China took over the presidentship of SCO at the end of the summit which concluded with signing of agreed documents on obligations of new members of SCO, anti-drugs strategy for 2011-2016 and healthcare.