Andrew Korybko transcribed Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s keynote speech at this year’s SCO Summit:
Excellencies, Pakistan has historic ties with the nations and countries represented around the table. We may be new to the SCO family, but our links are deep and abiding. The SCO is the modern expression of our historic roots. Our economic linkages are equally compelling. Pakistan provides the vital connectivity between the Middle East and China and Central and South Asia. These geographic proximities and economic imperatives draw us closer to the SCO. Excellencies, Pakistan today is a country of over 200 million resilient and enterprising people. Pakistan is an attractive investment destination and a large market endowed with a rich area of resources. Our predominantly young population is imbued with immense energy and creativity. Our other endowments include a a vast pool of skilled human resources, a large agrarian base, tremendous tourist potential, diverse mineral wealth, and a developed IT infrastructure.
Pakistan’s foreign policy outlook is anchored on the inexplicable link between peace and development. We build partnerships based on mutual respect, sovereign equality, and equal benefit. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of President Xi’s farsighted Belt & Road Initiative, is fast reaching fruition. Gwadar Port, at its southern end, marks the only point of convergence of the maritime belt and the overland road. I was in China in April for the Second Belt & Road Forum where we also launched the next phase of CPEC and concluded an upgraded Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement. In time, CPEC is destined to catalyze the integration of a pan-Asian sphere of prosperity.
Excellencies, the world stands at crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multipolar global order. Epicenters of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large on humanity. There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism, and at a heavy cost to our soldiers and to our population. Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We also remain actively engaged in the SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.
Excellencies, there is finally a realization that the conflict in in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. We deem this to be part of a shared responsibility and therefore appreciate the positive contributions being made by China, Russia, and Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors. The SCO’s support for post-conflict Afghanistan will remain crucial. Excellencies, South Asia continues to be challenged by common enemies: poverty, illiteracy, disease, and underdevelopment. Political differences and unresolved disputes further compound this predicament. Enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive until the main dynamic in South Asia is shifted from confrontation to cooperation. It’s important to seize the opportunities for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes and collective endeavors for regional prosperity.
Excellencies, the evolving situation in the Gulf and the Middle East is a matter of grave concern. We join the SCO members in urging the parties to exercise restraint, take steps to de-escalate the situation, and find solutions through diplomatic means. We believe implementations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action by all parties is essential for international and regional stability. Excellencies, as a sportsman I’ve always considered the playground to be a remarkable teacher. Sports teaches us that opportunities knock at our door in the shape of challenges, the inculcate sportsman spirit, fair play, and justice, values that are the core of the SCO philosophy. On the turf of international politics, there is an opening for SCO to play its role in framing a brave new world.
I suggest the following eight-prong course of action:
Number one, reinforce our vision of cooperation that rejects confrontation and advance the imperatives of peaceful coexistence at the regional and international levels.
Number two, galvanize the Shanghai Spirit to strengthen SCO’s core mandate of mitigating the risk of conflict, fostering confidence, and promoting stability.
Number three, finalize arrangements for trade in local currencies and set up an SCO fund and SCO development bank to catalyze the transregional development agenda.
Number four, synergize the various region-wide connectivity initiatives and work on complementing infrastructure connectivity with soft connectivity including digital, cultural, touristic, academic. I propose setting up an SCO culture and tourism corridor clustering multiple SCO destinations into a single package.
Number five, making SCO more relevant to the daily lives of citizens by promoting food security and enhancing cooperation in health and humanitarian sectors.
Number six, take the lead in establishing a comprehensive framework for combating corruption and white-collar crime to prevent billions of dollars annually money laundered from the developing world onto offshore accounts.
Number seven, prioritize women and youth empowerment by focusing on strengthening the women forum and youth council and mandating them to promote gender mainstreaming, skill acquisition, and job mobility.
And lastly, number eight, bridge the gap between region-specific research and policy by launching feasibliities for creating SCO centers of excellence on poverty and poverty alleviation, something which the whole world can learn from the Chinese experience.
Deradicalization, important at a time of world terrorism, connectivity, and new technologies. Excellencies, we have every resource and every reason to turn our dreams into reality. A far-reaching vision, strength, ownership, and synergy in our efforts will help us in successfully achieving this transformation. Thank you.
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