ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Council of Foreign Ministers’ two-day meeting today (September 9) in Moscow, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Moscow SCO-CFM will consider more than 20 documents for subsequent adoption in the SCO Council of Heads of State. It will also adopt a Joint Communiqué reflecting member states’ unified stance on important regional and international issues. The Foreign Minister will also have bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the CFM.

The invitation to the Foreign Minister to attend the SCO-CFM was extended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who would also chair the meeting. 

The SCO-CFM is the highest forum of SCO after the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Heads of Government (CHG). It deliberates on important regional and international issues and considers documents for approval and adoption by the Council of Heads of State.

Besides Pakistan, SCO’s current membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. SCO is an important forum for further enriching our deep-rooted historical and cultural links with member states, providing these ties a sound economic foundation, and promoting Pakistan as a regional trade and transit corridor.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing in working towards achieving SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms. From 2005 to 2017, Pakistan was an Observer in SCO.

The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai China by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St. Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation's goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.

The historical meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was held on 8-9 June 2017 in Astana. On the meeting the status of a full member of the organisation was granted to the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The Heads of State Council is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO. It meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation. The SCO Heads of Government Council meets once a year to discuss the organisation's multilateral cooperation strategy and priority areas, to resolve current important economic and other cooperation issues, and also to approve the organisation's annual budget. The SCO's official languages are Russian and Chinese.

In addition to HSC and HGC meetings, there is also a mechanism of meetings at the level of heads of parliament; secretaries of Security Councils; ministers of foreign affairs, defence, emergency relief, economy, transport, culture, education, and healthcare; heads of law enforcement agencies and supreme and arbitration courts; and prosecutors general. The Council of National Coordinators of SCO Member States acts as the SCO coordination mechanism.

The organisation has two permanent bodies — the SCO Secretariat based in Beijing and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure based in Tashkent.

The SCO Secretary-General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS are appointed by the Council of Heads of State for a term of three years. Rashid Alimov (Tajikistan) and Yevgeny Sysoyev (Russia) have held these positions, respectively, since 1 January 2016.