ISLAMABAD                      -                Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries can defeat the coronavirus pandemic together.

In a telephonic conversation with Secretary General SCO Vladimir Norov, Foreign Minister Qureshi said in order to strengthen regional cooperation in South Asia in the wake of the pandemic, Pakistan had proposed a video conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Health Ministers to learn from each other’s experiences. He called for pooling of region-wide research capabilities to combat coronavirus for effective coordination in relief and containment efforts. He briefed the Secretary General on the measures being taken by Pakistan to contain Covid-19 pandemic.

“Both leaders exchanged views on adopting an effective strategy to contain the COVID-19 Pandemic and facing the challenges posed by it,” said a foreign ministry statement.  He said that Pakistan attached high importance to SCO as its member states comprised more than 40% of the world population and accounted for a quarter of global GDP. “At a time when the entire world was facing this challenge, coordinated efforts through SCO platform were essential to adopt an effective strategy to control the pandemic,” he added. 

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that China was providing valuable support to Pakistan in dealing with the Pandemic. Underlining that China had led the way in effective containment, and a lot could be gained from learning from the Chinese experience, the Foreign Minister appreciated SCO Secretariat’s role in disseminating timely information on China’s effective response to the Pandemic. The Foreign Minister also lauded the Russian initiative to hold a video conference of the Experts of Health Ministries of SCO member states on April 1, 2020.

In addition to coordination and collaboration in relief and containment efforts, Foreign Minister Qureshi called for pooling of region-wide research capabilities to combat the disease. Alluding to the adverse socio-economic ramifications of the crisis, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s call for debt relief and restructuring for developing countries and said that he had discussed this issue with other leaders including the Secretary General of UN, the Secretary General Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and his counterparts from European countries.

He expressed the hope that SCO will play an effective role in taking the proposal forward through its own platform.

“The SCO Secretary General thanked the Foreign Minister for the call. He expressed appreciation for the Prime Minister’s proposal for debt relief and restructuring for developing countries and said that financial support for developing countries was the need of the hour,” the statement said.

The Foreign Minister invited the SCO Secretary General to visit Pakistan as soon as the situation permitted. The SCO Secretary General accepted the invitation.