Statement of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting at Sochi, Russia, on 1 December 2017

December 01, 2017


Mr. Medvedev,
Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation
Honourable Heads of Government of SCO Members and Observers
Secretary General Mr. Alimov
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honor to address this august gathering of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO member States. I would like to convey my profound gratitude to Chairman Medvedev for hosting this meeting in the beautiful city of Sochi. I am deeply touched by the warm hospitality extended to my delegation.
This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the signing of the SCO’s Charter. It also holds a special significance for Pakistan. We take pride in becoming a full member of the SCO, an organization that offers a new model of inter-state cooperation for peace, security, connectivity and sustainable development. We congratulate India on becoming a full member of the SCO. 
Mr. Chairman,
The SCO holds tremendous potential for connectivity, trade, energy and economic development. It can lead  to progress and prosperity for our entire region. Pakistan looks forward to bringing further vitality to this vibrant organization. With a consumer market of over 200 million people, vast business potential and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, Pakistan offers the SCO enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. Pakistan’s deep historical and cultural ties, as well as strong economic and strategic links with the SCO members, can act as an enabler in realizing the SCO’s vision.  
Trade and economic cooperation hold the key to the SCO region’s long-term stability, progress and prosperity. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is the pioneering project of the Belt and Road Initiative, complements the SCO’s vision of connectivity and economic integration. We would like to see the CPEC connected to the 6 main trade corridors of the SCO. This will help fulfil the long cherished aspiration for land and maritime connectivity between Europe, Central Asia, China and South Asia. Pakistan is also pursuing projects such as CASA 1000 and TAPI Pipeline Project to promote regional energy connectivity. We would caution against the politicization of economic development and connectivity projects. Such a myopic approach will only hold back our collective progress.
Mr. Chairman,
The world is going through a profound transformation marked by eastward shift of the global development potential. Coinciding with this change, the SCO is creating a new imprint on the global international order. The “Shanghai Spirit” - as enshrined in the SCO Charter and the Treaty on long-term neighborliness, friendship and cooperation –  is our guiding principle. It can help promote our shared vision of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, respect for cultural diversity and the pursuit of common development. The SCO should continue to contribute towards building a just and rational world order based on the UN Charter principles of respect for international law and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
Mr. Chairman,
Pakistan is fully cognizant of the threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism to the regional and global economic development. We have lost thousands of lives, including 6,500 military and law enforcement personnel, to terrorism. Our economy has suffered losses of over $ 120 billion. This has only served to strengthen our resolve to fight terrorism. We are vigilant and will not allow any form of militancy on our soil. Pakistan is fully committed to eliminating the evil of terrorism. 
Pakistan supports and would complement the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against terrorism and extremism. We support the SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism,  we must respect the norms and principles of international law and shun “double standards”. Terrorism cannot be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.
Pakistan desires an early return of peace, stability and prosperity to our brotherly country of Afghanistan. To this end, we call for further deepening of cooperation within the new consultative format of “SCO – Afghanistan Contact Group”.  The objective of this format should be to support Afghanistan’s efforts for a peaceful political settlement through dialogue and combating security and terrorism threats to Afghanistan and the region. We will be happy to contribute to SCO’s efforts towards building a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Before concluding, I would like to highlight the importance of strengthening the future SCO cooperation through:
• Improving the regional infrastructure and enhancing connectivity by building communication networks, including roads, motorways, air, maritime and IT links;
• Developing multilateral trading system in sync with the WTO to pursue the shared goal of economic, trade, services and technological integration;
• Harmonizing laws and regulations on trade facilitation, movement of merchandise, taxation policies, customs rules and removal of tariff/non-tariff barriers as well as development of SMEs  and E-commerce;
• Supporting efforts of SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association in further enhancing economic, trade and investment cooperation;
• Fast-tracking the establishment of the SCO Development Bank and Development Fund and creating synergies with AIIB and other financial institutions;
• Creating legal synergy through regular dialogue between parliamentarians, Justice Ministries, Supreme Courts and Attorney Generals for effective administration of justice; 
• Investing more in the fields of health, tourism, education, sports, culture, people-to-people contacts and the liberalization of visa regimes.
Mr. Chairman,
Today, we are witnessing a historic opportunity for the SCO to truly have a trans-continental reach.  In the coming decades, it would emerge as an important global geopolitical and geo-economic force. Let us harness the SCO’s potential and competencies for our mutual advantage. We stand ready to contribute to this collective endeavor. We congratulate China for taking over Chairmanship of the SCO and we wish it all success, and we promise our full support to their efforts. We thank China for effectively steering the SCO during its presidency. We welcome Tajikistan as the next host of the SCO's Heads of Government Meeting in 2018. 

Thank you Mr. Chairman.