Let’s not weaponise terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring, says Bilawal at SCO meeting

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari used his address to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Friday to urge member nations to refrain from using terrorism as a diplomatic tool.

Speaking on the second day of his visit to India, the foreign minister emphasised the importance of greater cooperation among SCO countries in tackling terrorism, calling for joint efforts to address the root causes of the issue.

“The collective security of our peoples is our joint responsibility. […] Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring,” the Foreign Office (FO) quoted Bilawal as saying.

Earlier, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar also addressed the SCO meeting, highlighting the issue of cross-border terrorism.

The Hindustan Times reported him as saying, “While the world was engaged in facing Covid and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continues unabated. Taking our eyes off this menace would be detrimental to our security interests.

“We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism,” Jaishankar said according to the Hindustan Times.

He further called for the “channel of activities for terrorist activities” to be “seized and blocked without distinction”.

The Indian news agency quoted the minister as saying, “Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO.”

Jaishankar noted that the unfolding situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to power “remains at the centre of our attention”, adding that the efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people, the Hindustan Times said.

Bilawal’s address also touched upon the SCO’s importance for Pakistan and Islamabad’s commitment to Afghanistan.

The FO, in a Twitter thread, quoted Bilawal as saying, “There couldn’t be a more powerful indication of the importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO than my presence here in Goa for this CFM.”

Bilawal asserted the SCO could be a “key platform for taking the vision of Eurasian connectivity to the next level”, the FO said.

He also reiterated Pakistan’s belief and adherence to the “principles of mutual trust, equality, respect for cultural diversity, and the pursuit of shared development enshrined in the original ‘Shanghai Spirit’”.

The minister asserted Pakistan’s commitment to multilateralism and said it “continues to play a leading role at all international forums”.

Speaking on Afghanistan, Bilawal said, “A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability.”

Citing Pakistan’s proposal to establish the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation, Bilawal advocated for closer cooperation for poverty alleviation under the SCO, the FO said.

Speaking on the occasion, the foreign minister once again highlighted Pakistan’s role in the global discourse on climate change. He further said, “The climate crisis poses an existential threat to humanity.”

He further highlighted the SCO’s role as an intergovernmental organisation and said the platform had promoted “mutual understanding, security and development through constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation”.

Earlier today, the FO shared a group photo of the foreign ministers attending the SCO meeting today. The SCO comprises eight member states — Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The FO also shared a photo of Jaishankar welcoming Bilawal to today’s CFM meeting. A video shared by the ANI shows the Indian minister welcoming Bilawal with a Namaste gesture —

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