Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan's "resolute commitment to continue to advance SCO's goals.

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) - Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday that stability in the war-torn Afghanistan was vital to achieve the target of regional connectivity among the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Shah Mahmood was representing Pakistan at the 20th anniversary meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government (CHG), which was held in a virtual format and chaired by Kazakh prime minister Askar Mamin. All SCO member states and observer countries were represented at the level of prime ministers, vice presidents and foreign ministers, foreign office said.

Qureshi described the 20th anniversary year of the establishment of the SCO as an important juncture where leaders of the member states need to collectively chart the future course of the organisation.

The foreign minister reaffirmed Pakistan s "resolute commitment to continue to advance SCO s goals and objectives."

He underscored that “regional security was imperative in fulfilling SCO s vision of regional prosperity and economic growth” and stability in Afghanistan was of critical importance for all member states of SCO to achieve that goal.

He said that Pakistan on its part would continue to “play its role to assist our Afghan brethren in their hour of need by contributing towards its socio-economic development” as well as engage with regional and international partners to advance shared goals and objectives.

The foreign minister emphasised that projects aimed at building regional connectivity as well as creating linkages between businessmen and entrepreneurs were important to achieve regional economic growth.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, is a nine -member economic and security bloc and has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations.

India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017. Iran became its member in 2021.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The Council of Heads of Government is the second highest forum in SCO that focuses primarily on cooperation among SCO member states in socio-economic, trade and financial sectors.