ZHENGZHOU - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday paid glowing tributes to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for promoting mutual trust and cooperation in countering terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime.

He was addressing the SCO’s heads of government council’s meeting chaired by Chinese premier Li Keqiang at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in the capital city of Henan province here.

Prime Minister Nawaz said that the SCO forum had strengthened the mutually beneficial partnership in various fields including trade, finance, energy, infrastructure, tourism and environmental protection.

He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to collectively confront the challenges of extremism, separatism, human and drug-trafficking, organised crime, environmental and natural disasters.

The prime minister however argued that security situation around the region remained precarious since the threat to state sovereignty and territorial integrity were both serious and visible. “We see armed conflicts continuing to rage in several parts of the world unleashing forces which are beyond the control of anyone,” he warned. He pleaded the militant ideologies must be countered, adding that terrorism remained a real threat and had become even more insidious.

“Pakistan shared the perspective that connectivity and development are critical to progress, prosperity and security in the region. We support regional connectivity projects and Islamabad was committed to making the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project a resounding success,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif expressed his appreciation that the SCO has expanded its geographical reach by adding six observers and six dialogue partners. He also expressed his confidence that Pakistan would attend the next SCO summit in Tashkent in June 2016 as full member.

Later, the prime minister and his Chinese counterpart held a bilateral meeting for which special time space was created because there was a very hectic diplomatic activity due to hosting of a meeting that brought a very large number of delegates from SCO member states. At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated Premier Li for successful hosting of the HoGC meeting.

While appreciating the role of China for helping Pakistan to become SCO full member, he said his country is in the advanced stage of completing procedures, formalities, conventions and treaties.

He also appreciated the role of Chinese leadership and the Communist Party on IMF’s approval for Chinese currency Yuan as global reserve currency. Nawaz Sharif added that it would be a milestone in integrating the Chinese economy into the global financial system.

The focus during the meeting remained on CPEC and PM Nawaz expressed his satisfaction on the pace of work. He asked his counterpart to allow a visa-cum-trade office in Urumqi to facilitate fast track implementation of the CPEC projects.

Nawaz Sharif briefed and updated Mr Li on the successful Zarb-e-Azab operation in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas and implementation of the National Action Plan across the country.

Talking about the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETM), PM Nawaz remarked that the said entity had endangered not only the stability of China but also of Pakistan. “Our security and intelligence agencies had successfully eliminated the menace from Pakistani territory,” he assured Premier Li.

He went on to say that Pakistan has established a special security division that would become functional by the end of this month. It would ensure protection of Chinese workers engaged in CPEC projects, he said, adding that the Gwadar Security Task Force has already been mobilised under the command of a Brigadier.

Premier Nawaz Sharif sought deeper cooperation between the China National Area-Technology Corporation and the Pakistan Air Force.

On Afghanistan, Nawaz Sharif briefed Premier Li on the outcome of the recently held ‘Heart of Asia’ conference which was inaugurated by him and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Islamabad. He informed Mr Li that he had proposed a mechanism of a steering committee comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States. The committee, according to him, would supervise peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan would keep close coordination with China in deliberations of the committee.

Talking about the recent development in South Asia, Nawaz informed Mr Li that his sideline meeting with Indian Prime Minister Modi in Paris and Foreign Minister Sushma Soraj’s visit to Islamabad had yielded encouraging results. He added that both the countries had agreed to resume the disrupted composite dialogue, now re-named as ‘Comprehensive Dialogue’. This, according to Nawaz, was a welcome development in the prevailing conditions.