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  • May 24th, 2018
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Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Wednesday expressed Pakistan's readiness to work with regional countries under the umbrella of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to effectively eliminate the menace of terrorism from the region.

Inaugurating a three-day meeting of Legal Experts Group of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS), she said that Pakistan fully supports and welcomes the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against "three evils", ie, terrorism, extremism and separatism.

"We now look forward to working with regional countries under the umbrella of SCO to effectively eliminate this menace from our region," she told the meeting being attending by legal exports from the member states including India.

She said that Pakistan is cognizant of the threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism to the region and beyond. "Having fought terrorism, we have lost thousands of our citizens and law enforcement personnel, with many more injured. We have also suffered economic losses of over US $120 billion," she added.

But neither the human nor the financial losses have diminished Pakistan's resolve to fight this menace, she said. "Through our comprehensive efforts, over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, we have been able to turn the tide," she added.

She said that Pakistan's National Counter Extremism Policy focuses on the rule of law, service delivery, citizens' engagement, media engagement, integrated education reform, reformation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and renunciation of terrorism by extremist elements and promotion of culture as its major facets.

As a new member, she said that Pakistan would continue to complement these efforts. "We support SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun double standard," she said, asserting that terrorism cannot and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.

"We strongly believe that SCO-RATs is an ideal forum for exchange of views and best practices on countering terrorism and extremism. We hope that other member states can benefit from our rich experience in countering terrorism and extremism as we do from the good practices developed by other SCO members," Janjua said.

She further said that the SCO holds special significance for Pakistan. "We take pride in becoming a full member of the SCO last year - an organization that offers a unique new model of inter-state cooperation for peace, security, connectivity and sustainable development," she added.

She said that the SCO holds tremendous potential for connectivity, trade, energy and economic development, adding that it can lead to progress and prosperity for entire region. "We look forward to bringing further vitality to this vibrant organization. With a consumer market of over 200 million people, vast business potential and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, Pakistan offers the SCO enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation," she said.

Janjua further said that Pakistan's historical and cultural ties, as well as strong economic and strategic links with the SCO members, can act as an enabler in realizing the SCO's vision.

The foreign secretary also welcomed the delegates on behalf of the government of Pakistan and hoped that the legal experts from the member countries will be able to get a glimpse of Pakistan's rich and diverse cultural heritage and the natural beauty of the city during their brief visit.

Experts from the eight SCO member states - China, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan - are attending the meeting and it is expected to come up with a joint statement at the conclusion on May 25.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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