Dastgir attends SCO defence ministers’ meetup

By Staff Reporter
Thursday – April 26, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Defence minister Khurram Dastgir, addressing the 15th defence ministers meeting of Shanghai cooperation organisation (SCO) in Beijing on Wednesday, held that Pakistan has eliminated terrorism from its soil at a monumental cost in blood of our soldiers and citizens and as a result the country has suffered economic losses in excess of $120 billion.

According to an official statement, through its elected government and Parliament, he added, Pakistan has adopted a comprehensive national action plan (NAP) to combat terrorism in the non-kinetic realm.

Dastgir indicated continuing turmoil in Afghanistan, including presence of Daesh, as a source of insecurity for its neighbors and for the entire region. “Serious challenges facing the region include violent extremism, poverty, lack of trans-boundary water management, drug trafficking, refugees, human trafficking, and border controls,” he said.

Dastgir acknowledged the existence of bilateral issues between SCO members, but asserted that these should never be allowed to impede our collective work. He encouraged his counterparts to face collective challenges with courage, harmony and cooperation.

In his first official SCO meeting, the minister signed a communiqué with other participants. The communiqué offered support for the Shanghai spirit of building a shared community with peace and stability, development and prosperity.

Defence ministers from the SCO member states including those from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and India attended the meeting. Defence minister of Belarus attended as an observer.

This was the first assembly of the SCO defence ministers after the organisation was expanded in 2017 for the first time to add India and Pakistan as full members.

Chinese state councilor and minister for defence general Wei Fenghe chaired the meeting.

Dastgir headed the Pakistan delegation that included director general joint staff (DGJS) lieutenant general Zafar Malik, SCO director general (DG) Zahoor Ahmed and Pakistani defence attaché in Beijing brigadier Ahmed Bilal.