Islamabad - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday called for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes as the unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions adversely affect the regional environment.

“Creating an environment of stability and cooperation in the region, implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes is indispensable,” Prime Minister said while speaking via video link at the 20th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Heads of State.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was invited to attend the SCO-CHS by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who chaired the online meeting. Leaders from all eight SCO member states and four observer states were in attendance, together with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Secretary-General of SCO Rashid Alimov.

On freedom of speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Deliberately insulting religion and religious beliefs provokes hatred, leading to further polarisation and fragmentation of humanity.” He asserted that was wrong to use terrorism related issues as a political tools against a community, race or party.  

Highlighting Pakistan’s role in the council’s multi-sectoral agenda for regional peace and security, Imran Khan said “it is critical to address terrorism in all its forms”, adding, that Pakistan has been at the forefront of the struggle against terrorism for a long time.

“We must also continue to steadfastly oppose extremist and xenophobic tendencies including racist ideologies inspired by neo-Nazis and Islamophobia,” he stated.

The Prime Minister also called for global coordinated efforts to combat adverse impacts of corona pandemic and to fight with its emerging second wave.

Rules out military solution of Afghanistan conflict

He said COVID-19 vaccine should be a “global public good”, affordable and accessible to all.

He emphasised on working out a strategy and an action plan to mitigate the adverse economic impact of the pandemic in the short, medium and long-term.

Prime Minister also proposed creation of SCO knowledge-bank of best practices to fight COVID-19 in order to guide the member states through the second wave and beyond.

“Humanity faces the possibility of a slow recovery and a prolonged economic slump with rising poverty and inequality,” warned PM Imran Khan, while highlighting the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus.

“Under the circumstances, the imperative of a common approach to limit the spread of infectious diseases, reduce the effects and develop potential remedies has increased manifold. Yet global harmony and multilateralism are undermined by rising geopolitical tensions, unilateralism and isolationism.”

He lauded the SCO’s call for “effective multilateralism” and expressed the belief that the forum, with its “core principles of solidarity and mutual support, would be effective in combatting the effects of Covid-19”.

“At a time when the world is bereft of global vision and shared solutions, SCO has called for effective multilateralism, with the UN playing a central coordinating role,” the Prime Minister noted.

The Prime Minister said that China and Pakistan are also collaborating in vaccine development, with phase three trials successfully underway.

He said Pakistan is open to sharing its own experience in effectively combating the pandemic and keeping the total cases and fatalities relatively low through calibrated policy of ‘smart lockdowns’ and financial support to the most vulnerable segments of society and stabilise economy.

Imran Khan said “We should call for more measures by G-20 countries to meet common challenges like the climate change, deteriorating environment, widening inequality within and among nations, poverty, disease, hunger and sustainable development”.

He said this should include measures to stop financial outflows from developing countries to off-shore bank accounts in rich countries.

Prime Minister also suggested formulating a multi-year SCO Youth Strategy with a focus on building partnerships among educational institutions.

He said we should develop SCO partnership for technology, offering scholarships and exchange programmes for youth in the scientific field.

Referring to the Afghan peace process, Imran Khan once again warned of spoilers to the initiative.

He said as a shared responsibility, Pakistan has steadfastly supported the Afghan-led and the Afghan-owned peace process as there is no military solution to Afghanistan conflict.

“We must also remain mindful of the challenges ahead, especially the role of the spoilers within and outside who do not want peace and stability to return to Afghanistan.”

He reiterated that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem.

Imran Khan said return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour should be an essential part of the peace negotiations.

The forum is expected to adopt 16 documents including the ‘Moscow Declaration’ reflecting member states’ stance on important regional and international issues.

SCO’s major objectives include promoting mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among member states, strengthening regional peace, security and stability, and creating a framework for effective cooperation in political, cultural, trade and economy and other fields.

The platform is an important forum for further enriching deep-rooted historical and cultural links with member States, providing these ties with a sound economic foundation and promoting Pakistan as a regional trade and transit corridor.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan had been actively contributing to the promotion of SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms.

Besides Pakistan, SCO’s current membership comprises China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.