ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was well equipped to counter the coronavi­rus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Shah Me­hmood Qureshi participated in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers vid­eo-conference convened by the Rus­sian Federation in its capacity as cur­rent chair of SCO.

In his remarks, the Foreign Minis­ter opined that the Covid-19 pandem­ic posed a challenge of unprecedent­ed scale and magnitude to humanity that necessitated coordinated respons­es. The crisis was a litmus test for mul­tilateralism, and the SCO was well equipped to tackle it.

He specifically praised China’s re­sponsible handling of the crisis and its leading role in assisting the internation­al community. He also expressed grati­tude for China’s assistance to Pakistan.

Besides Pakistan, the meeting was at­tended by foreign ministers of all mem­ber states, the secretary general SCO, and Director of the Executive Commit­tee of the SCO Regional Anti-terrorist Structure.

Apart from the prevailing pandem­ic situation, matters relating to peace and security in the region including Af­ghanistan came under discussion.

The foreign minister briefed the SCO foreign ministers on Pakistan’s coor­dinated response to COVID-19 cover­ing the public health as well as the eco­nomic aspects of the crisis.

He observed that even though in­fections were spreading, Pakistan had seen relatively low fatalities. However, he added there was no room to let our guard down.

Highlighting the socio-economic re­percussions of the health crisis, For­eign Minister Qureshi underscored the salience of Prime Minister Im­ran Khan’s “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries as a means to formulate a comprehensive multi-stakeholder plan of action to shore up economies and promote sus­tainable growth.

The foreign minister made a num­ber of proposals to strengthen coordi­nation among SCO States against the pandemic, including regular interac­tion among Ministries of Health; joint research mechanisms; and strengthen­ing of SCO Hospital Alliance.

Commenting on the regional situa­tion, the Foreign Minister welcomed the US-Taliban peace agreement and hoped that the Afghan leadership would seize the historic opportunity to work out a comprehensive and inclu­sive political settlement.

The Foreign Minister emphasized that tackling terrorism and extremism must continue to be a priority but ter­rorism related allegations must not be used as political tool to malign and vic­timize any country or religion.