ISLAMABAD  - Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Monday that regular membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would be helpful for Pakistan to combat terrorism more effectively.

The minister, while talking to the media at Benazir Bhutto International Airport before his departure for Bishkek to attend an SCO conference to be held December 4-5 in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, said Pakistan had given unmatched sacrifices in the war against terrorism to make secure the whole world.

He added that the international community had acknowledged the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan.

Kaira said during the conference he would stress that Pakistan should be given permanent membership of the SCO in view of the forum’s importance in economic cooperation and maintaining regional security. Pakistan, he said, would also like to benefit from the expertise of the SCO member countries in taking measures against terrorism and extremism.

Kaira said Pakistan, being an observer, had been an active participant in the activities of the organisation which was quite evident from its being the first to apply for the full membership of the SCO. He said Pakistan had supported all initiatives of the SCO at all international for a, as it believed that the forum could play an important role to eliminate terrorism and poverty from the region. He said China, Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikestan and Uzbekistan were regular members while Pakistan and India had observer status. Kaira said initially it was planned that the prime minister would attend the conference, but due to his important engagements he was assigned the task to represent Pakistan at this important forum.

It would be the 11th Heads of Government Council Meeting. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an inter-governmental organisation which has now evolved into a multi-faceted organisation working for regional economic cooperation against terrorism, separatism, drug trafficking and organised crime. The information minister hoped that Pakistan’s presence in the SCO meeting would contribute and strengthen the SCO’s endeavors for the promotion of peace, security and overall harmony in the region.

Kaira said the main purpose of the SCO was to strengthen mutual trust and good-neighborliness and friendship among its member states; developing effective cooperation in political affairs, economy, trade, science and technology, culture, education, energy, transportation, environmental protection and other fields; working together to maintain regional peace, security and stability; and promoting the creation of a new international political and economic order featuring democracy, justice and rationality.

Kaira meanwhile during his meeting with the head of Jamia Qadria Aliya, Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri, in Lalamusa, stressed the need for promoting true Islamic values of peace, tolerance and religious harmony in the country. He said that Islam is a religion of peace, harmony and tolerance that called for respecting others’ sentiments. “We love peace as per the teachings of our prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), and want to conquer the world through love and dialogue.”

The minister said that today some elements were trying to enforce others to accept their creeds rather convincing them through logic. Kaira said that Islam spread through love and dialogue instead of using force. He also said that seminaries were not a problem, but some of them were being misused by some people that should be exposed by society. “We as a nation will have to overcome our weaknesses by following the teachings of the Almighty and the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he stressed. The minister further said,” We have a glorious past when we enjoyed respect in the comity of the nations. But, now we have lost the same due to our own mistakes”. “We will have to work hard and overcome our weaknesses and earn respect in the world.”

 Kaira also stressed the need for getting both religious and modern education to confront the new challenges. He said madaris were playing a positive role in educating the country.