Do not ‘weaponise terrorism’ for diplomatic point-scoring


Bilawal tells India
GOA : Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has urged states to collectively eradicate the menace of terrorism and “not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring”.
Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers in the Indian city of Goa on Friday, Bilawal Bhutto declared “The collective security of our peoples is our joint responsibility”.
Bilawal’s statement came apparently in response to his Indian counterpart’s earlier remarks about terrorism. Bilawal Bhutto also stressed a collective action by the regional countries under SCO to jointly address the common issues, particularly climate change, poverty and terrorism.
He said geopolitics must not affect the commitment to address the challenges and learn lessons for the collective good. “The solution to our collective challenges should be collective action, not a divided reaction… We must isolate these issues from hyper-partisan geopolitics if we are to succeed,” he said.
Bilawal said Pakistan considers the SCO a key regional platform comprising countries, which are bound together by longstanding historical, cultural, civilizational and geographical ties. “Our excuse cannot be we were too divided to put up a fight!” he said. He highlighted Pakistan’s vision of enhanced regional economic connectivity and win-win cooperation.
The foreign minister said the climate crisis posed an existential threat to humanity and proposed the establishment of a Joint Working Group in SCO on Climate Change. He mentioned that Pakistan recently faced the greatest climate catastrophe and stressed that the planet could only be saved from the ravages of climate change if the international community worked in unison.
He emphasized holding the developed world up to their commitment to providing US $100 billion annually for climate finance. On connectivity, Bilawal said Pakistan looked forward to hosting the ‘Conference on Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity’ in September 2023.
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could be a force multiplier for regional connectivity, adding that the route CPEC offered all countries to take the journey further and connect the dots towards full regional economic integration.
He congratulated Iran, which would soon become the newest member of the SCO family and welcomed the accession of Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates as new Dialogue Partners.
He said poverty still plagued this region and mentioned that Pakistan was proud of the internationally acclaimed Benazir Income Support Program which ushered in a silent revolution of poverty alleviation together with women’s empowerment. He said the establishment of the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation proposed by Pakistan would be a step in that direction.
Bilawal termed the collective security of the region a joint responsibility and said terrorism continued to threaten global security. “Let’s not get caught up in weaponizing terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring,” he said, and recalled that he spoke as the son whose mother was assassinated at the hands of terrorists. “I feel the pain of this loss, empathize with victims across the world in a way most can’t.”
He said Pakistan was firmly committed to being part of regional and global efforts for eradicating this menace that required a comprehensive and collective approach to address the root cause as well as the threats posed by specific groups. “It requires that we let this challenge unite us to fight it rather than divide us to become its victim. Our success requires us to isolate this issue from geo-political partisanship,” he said.
He said given that many SCO members confront the menace of terrorism, often from the same terrorist groups, the SCO RATS needs to be further strengthened to effectively address the growing threats to peace and security. “We must stop conflating non-state actors with state actors. Condemn all forms of terrorism including state-sponsored terrorism,” he pointed out.
On Afghanistan, he called upon the international community to meaningfully engage with the Interim Afghan Government to better understand and influence the course of events, especially on girls’ right to education and security.
He called on the Interim Afghan authorities to uphold their commitment to not allowing the use of Afghan soil for terrorism. “A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability,” he said.
Bilawal said Pakistan remained committed to multilateralism and continues to play a leading role at all international forums, including the United Nations, for forging friendly relations among nations and supporting the peaceful settlement of longstanding international disputes.
He commended China’s recent role in bridging differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran and said that “When great powers play the role of peacemaker, we can unlock the potential of peace while paving the way for greater cooperation, regional integration, and economic opportunities for our peoples.”
He expressed Pakistan’s unwavering support and commitment to the SCO’s goals and objectives, saying that SCO represented the future with 40 percent of the world’s population and almost a quarter of the world’s GDP.
Chairman of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers Dr S Jaishankar, the foreign ministers of SCO member states, the Secretary General of SCO, and Director, Executive Committee of SCO-RATS attended the meeting.
Earlier, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was welcomed by his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as he arrived at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Minis­ters (CFM) in Goa on Friday.
The meeting of the SCO CFM was scheduled to begin in the morning and by noon, the “decision document” will be signed, which will be followed by a working lunch. Foreing Minsiter Bilawal, who is leading the country’s delegation, had arrived in Goa on Thursday to attend the two-day meeting of the SCO CFM.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zehra Baloch said India has given Pakistan no reason to complain regarding Bilawal’s visit to attend SCO moot in Goa. “They haven’t given us a chance to complain.
All is well so far,” she told journalists.
When asked if Bilawal’s handshake with his Indian counterpart Jaishankar was reflective of past bitterness, Mumtaz Baloch said: “You are giving it a lot of importance. It was a routine formality.” Mumtaz Baloch said that it is premature to say that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in India in July.
Speaking to the media after landing in Goa, Bilawal said: “I am happy that I have reached here in Goa to attend the SCO meeting. I hope that the SCO CFM will be a success.” It may be mentioned here that on the occasion of the dinner hosted by the Indian minister for external affairs in honour of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India shook hands.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was the last to arrive at the dinner on Thursday night. When Bilawal Bhutto arrived, Jaishankar stood up from his seat and shook hands with him. Moreover, Bilawal Bhutto held a meeting with his Tajik counterpart Sirodjiddin Mukhriddin on the sidelines of the SCO meeting in Goa. The two foreign ministers discussed broad spectrum of bilateral relations and agreed to further strengthen economic ties and early completion of connectivity projects in particular CASA-1000.
Furthermore, Bilawal Bhutto also held a meeting with Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Bakhtiyor Saidov and discussed matters of bilateral and regional interests. During the meeting held on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa, they exchanged views on different issues with special focus on economic ties and enhanced regional connectivity.
In addition, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Zhang Ming called on Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday and discussed matters of mutual interest. During the meeting held on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa, India, Bilawal Bhutto briefed Secretary General on the activities of SCO in pursuance of vision of SCO leadership.
The Secretary General thanked the foreign minister for Pakistan’s consistent support to SCO and appreciated its constructive contributions towards strengthening regional cooperation, connectivity, peace and prosperity.