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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari led the Pakistan delegation to the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting, held in Tashkent from 28-29 July 2022.

Official engagements commenced with a joint call by SCO Foreign Ministers on the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. During the meeting, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed gratitude for the warm reception accorded to him and his delegation. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to further strengthen the close, historic and fraternal relations between Uzbekistan and Pakistan and the desire of the leaderships of both countries to make bilateral cooperation result-oriented and fruitful for the people of the two countries. The Foreign Minister conveyed warm greetings from Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif to the President and informed him that the Prime Minister will be participating in the SCO Council of Heads of State (CHS) meeting in Samarkand in September 2022.

In his comprehensive statement at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari highlighted Pakistan’s perspective on important regional and international issues of concern to SCO member states. Commenting on the developing geo-political changes and challenges to the international economic order in the post-Covid era, he emphasized that “shared prosperity” was a sine qua non for peace, stability and development in the SCO region and globally.

The Foreign Minister also shared Pakistan’s vision for the future direction and growth of SCO which could be achieved through joint efforts to enhance greater connectivity; road/rail links within the SCO region; building network of businessmen and entrepreneurs of SCO; harnessing the potential of technology and digitalization; and removing barriers to intra-SCO trade.

Highlighting the dire situation in Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister reminded SCO Ministers that, as neighbours of Afghanistan, all member states had a responsibility towards Afghanistan. It was thus important to find common approaches to address the humanitarian and economic challenges faced by the Afghan people.

The SCO Foreign Ministers deliberated upon important topical issues facing the Organization after 20 years of its establishment, including expansion in its membership; improvement in the mechanisms of the SCO Secretariat; and SCO’s stance on global economic and political developments and the challenges for SCO countries. They signed sixteen decisions endorsing proposals on diverse areas of socio-economic cooperation and adopted a Joint Statement on Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention.

On the sidelines, the Foreign Minister had important and in-depth interactions with his counterparts from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In these bilateral meetings, the Foreign Minister exchanged views on issues of common interest as well as matters relating to bilateral cooperation and further strengthening of political, economic and trade relations with these countries.

This was the first interaction of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the SCO platform where he was greeted warmly by his counterparts. His comprehensive statement that covered all aspects of wide-ranging collaboration among SCO member states and Pakistan’s active participation with the SCO Secretariat and Executive Committee of SCO-RATS was well-received.

The Council of Foreign Ministers meeting provided an important opportunity for Pakistan to share its priorities for the future direction of the Organization as well as take stock of the issues to be considered at the forthcoming Heads of State meeting in Samarkand in September 2022.

29 July 2022

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