ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan, Russia and China have formed an unofficial bloc on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Qingdao, vowing to work together in the coming years, diplomatic sources said.

President Mamnoon Hussain, who represented Pakistan at the SCO Council of Heads of State meeting, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of Qingdao summit on Sunday. He had earlier held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A foreign ministry statement issued after the meeting said: “The leaders discussed matters of mutual interest including bilateral, contemporary regional and global issues. Both leaders agreed that relations have strengthened. Trade, energy, security, culture, education and people-to-people contact were identified as avenues for enhanced future cooperation.”

It added: “The leaders agreed that the bilateral trade between the two nations has tremendous potential. They agreed to work together to further enhance economic ties and increase the trade volume.” An almost identical statement was issued after Hussain’s meeting with Jinping.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the two major meetings, along with other interactions with the SCO leaders, had been ‘very positive’.

One official said: “Russia and China have supported our efforts for peace and have pledged to help us. The two are firmly behind us. They also support our point of view on Afghanistan.”

He said: “The two powers have promised to help us in resolving the issues with India. Russia will use its influence (on India).”

Another official said the unanimity of views among Pakistan, Russia and China could be called an ‘unofficial bloc’ for peace in the region. “This alliance will work together in the coming years,” he said.

Addressing the SCO summit, President Mamnoon Hussain unveiled a five-point roadmap to achieve durable peace, development and stability in the region through enhanced connectivity, shared prosperity, trade and people to people contacts.

Spelling out the roadmap of priorities, the president said trust building was pivotal to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region, besides helping generate economic activity and enhance regional trade.

He viewed that the development projects should not be viewed though a myopic geopolitical angle. He said the countries should wholeheartedly support all regional development and connectivity projects including the Belt and Road Initiative and its flagship project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

By resolutely following the guiding principles of Shanghai Spirit of shared development and prosperity, the SCO countries should strive to alleviate poverty, support weaker economies of the region and combat terrorism and extremism. SCO Development Bank and Fund could contribute to this endeavor, he added.

Mamnoon told the summit that SCO Business Council would help promote business-to-business contacts in various sectors. similarly, they should explore the possibility of introducing a SCO visa regime for businessmen, he added.

He told the international gathering that the improvement of law and order situation in Pakistan over the past few years had provided a secure environment for investment and business.

Contrary to the global economic trends, he said, Pakistan’s economy had achieved great economic successes resulting in energy production and highest GDP growth rate of last decade this year.

Mamnoon told the summit that peace and stability in Afghanistan was a shared concern of SCO member states. “We believe this is only possible through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. The reactivation of SCO’s Contact Group of Afghanistan is a welcome step,” he remarked.

For its best, Pakistan would continue to lend full support for promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan had welcomed President Ghani’s announcement of ceasefire and initiative of unconditional offer for peace talks to the Taliban.

“I am pleased to inform that Pakistan has embarked on a bilateral Action Plan for Peace, Security and Stability with Afghanistan. We hope that these efforts will bear fruits and contribute to peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

He said the SCO’s regional Anti-terrorism structure was an expression of their concerns on extremism and terrorism and Pakistan was ready to share its experiences of successful counter terrorism campaign with SCO states.

Thanking the Chinese people, government and President Xi Jinping for organiSing the multi-purpose summit, the president said in order to mark this momentous occasion, Pakistan had issued a special commemorative postage stamp.

He said Pakistan had been successful in meeting the Memorandum of Obligations to SCO in a timely manner. He said Pakistan’s strategic location, access to the Indian Ocean and huge consumer market has further enhanced these opportunities.

“Our success has been bolstered by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, participation in Central Asian regional connectivity projects like TAPI and CASA 1000 and the upward trajectory in our growth rate will continue,” he remarked.

President Mamnoon and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged pleasantries during the SCO summit. The two leaders were photographed shaking hands after a press conference by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Earlier, Xi Jinping gave the leaders of Pakistan and India a “special welcome” to their first summit of the SCO, since their countries joined the group last year.

Earlier, President Xi Jinping chaired the summit which was participated by the Heads of State of the SCO Member States which, besides the president of Pakistan, included the presidents of Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and prime minister of India. The leaders of four observer states of SCO, presidents of Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia also participated in the meeting.

The heads of state held a ‘restricted format’ meeting of the leaders of member states in the morning followed by a plenary session. The leaders exchanged views on contemporary regional and global issues.

They agreed to further enhance cooperation and mutual trust to realise the maximum potential offered by the organization. The heads of state reiterated their commitment to the charter of SCO and to the “Shanghai Spirit” which includes reference to mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.

The summit witnessed the signing of over 20 documents outlining future SCO trajectory in a number of spheres. Besides the Qingdao declaration these included: Action plan on implementing the provisions of treaty on long-term good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation; cooperation plan on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism; anti-drug strategy and its plan of action, concept on preventing the abuse of narcotic drugs, declaration on trade facilitation; vision on environment protection and joint appeal of heads of state on the necessity to prevent involvement of youth in activities of destructive nature and action plan.

Besides cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding in various fields such as cooperation on countering threats of Epidemics; MOU on stimulating cooperation in the small and medium-sized enterprises.

An MoU for cooperation between SCO and UNESCO was also signed. The council confirmed appointment of new Secretary General of SCO N V Imamovich and G D Fayozovichnew Executive Director of SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

 

 

Pakistan, Russia, China form ‘unofficial bloc’