Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Thursday that the interim Taliban government should ensure that Afghan soil

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Thursday that the interim Taliban government should ensure that Afghan soil is not used for terrorism against any state, stressing that regional peace depends on it.

Addressing the SCO Council of Heads of State Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, he said: “The SCO member states have a shared interest in ensuring peace and stability in the region, which is a precondition for any kind of economic development.”

The prime minister called upon the forum to engage with the Afghan authorities and also asked the Kabul administration to ensure its role in curbing terrorism.

Shehbaz said that achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan is a lynchpin to this common objective.

“The international community must meaningfully engage with the interim Afghan government to help them meet their genuine economic and development needs,” Shehbaz said.

At the same time, he said, the Afghan government must ensure that its soil is not used for terrorism by any entity against other states.

“Recent terrorist activities have been a matter of great concern for all of us,” he added.

‘State terrorism’

Moving on, the prime minister said that state terrorism should be condemned unambiguously as he stressed that rooting out militancy is a precondition for economic development.

“Terrorism, whether committed by individuals, groups, or states, must be fought collectively in a comprehensive fashion.”

The prime minister’s remarks came at the regional summit, which was also attended by India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. The Pakistani government has repeatedly said that the neighbouring nation sponsors terrorism in the country.

In his speech today, Prime Minister Shehbaz said: “Terrorism, in all its forms and manifestation, including state terrorism must be condemned in clear and unambiguous terms. There can neither be any justification for the killing of innocent people nor should the bogey of terrorism be used for political point scoring.”

He also called on the summit to combat terrorism collectively and in a comprehensive fashion.

The prime minister also urged the need to ensure respect for the universally recognised principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and, people’s fundamental right to self-determination and said UN Security Council resolutions offered a workable framework to resolve long-standing disputes, including those in the region.

“Failure to implement these resolutions had brought unimaginable sufferings to the people,” the premier noted.

‘Forward-looking initiatives’

In his statement, the prime minister also reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to the SCO Charter and principles and conveyed Pakistan’s support for the expansion of SCO and reforms in the organisation.

He also welcomed the inclusion of Belarus as a full SCO member state and congratulated President Xi Jinping on assuming the Chair of SCO for the year 2024-25.

The premier said that cooperation with SCO was a high priority in Pakistan’s foreign policy. He called for collective action under the SCO platform for achieving socioeconomic development.

He also advocated for enhanced connectivity within the region through efficient transport corridors and reliable supply chains. In this regard, he said Pakistan was the ideal trade conduit for the region and CPEC supplements SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and integration.

On climate change, Shehbaz reiterated Pakistan’s commitment towards a sustainable and nature-positive world.

He welcomed the SCO Agreement on Environmental Protection and called on developed countries to enhance support to developing countries for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

On Palestine, the prime minister said Israel’s indiscriminate bombing had killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

He called for outrightly denouncing Israel’s barbaric acts and called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire leading to realisation of the two-state solution with the establishment of the State of Palestine with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds as its capital.

The prime minister said Pakistan was looking forward to hosting the SCO Council of Heads of Government meeting in Islamabad in October this year.

“Pakistan would strive to adopt forward-looking initiatives to promote steady development and sought active and positive collaboration of all SCO Member States.”

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