Pakistan PM Imran Khan addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit 2021 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on September 17, 2021. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the regional countries to unite efforts for cooperation and peaceful existence and resist any drift towards bloc politics.

Imran Khan is on a two-day visit to Tajikistan where he addressed the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Dushanbe on Friday.

Addressing the summit, Khan stressed that SCO can play a crucial role in peace and stability in the region and improve security and socio-economic development. He said that addressing threats to international and regional peace and security is a vital interest for SCO members.

“The 20th anniversary of SCO is an important juncture to reflect on our journey as SCO has come a long way. Today, SCO cumulatively represents 44 per cent of the world’s population and over 20 per cent of the global GDP” PM Khan said. The vast region comprising SCO member states - Pakistan, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - makes it the largest regional organization which includes four nuclear powers.


Afghanistan’s future dominated the SCO summit 2021. Pakistan’s PM Khan called upon the members to chart out “a coordinated SCO approach towards stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan” by providing humanitarian support and through enhanced engagement. He stressed that “Taliban must fulfil the pledges made” to international community especially inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups are represented.” It is equally important to assure respect for the rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists, PM Khan said.

Khan noted that the transition occurred in Afghanistan “without bloodshed, civil war, and mass exodus of refugees” but urged that it is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure stability in Afghanistan and prevent a humanitarian crisis. He shared that Pakistan extended all possible support in the provision of humanitarian relief and facilitated international evacuation efforts.

Regional connectivity

SCO countries recently agreed to strengthen connectivity, develop e-commerce linkages to deepen trade cooperation between member countries. At the summit, PM Khan pushed for regional connectivity to help realize the “vision of an inter-connected, prosperous and economically vibrant region” he said. Pakistan’s geostrategic location can serve as a natural bridge connecting Central Asia with South Asia through the platform of SCO. “Pakistan offers the shortest route to the sea for many of our partners in Central Asia,” he said. The network of rail, road, sea and air links across the SCO states will usher the region in a new era of enhanced trade, energy flows, and people-to-people exchanges, significantly contributing to progress and prosperity in the region and beyond, Khan said. He announced that Pakistan would host a virtual conference on the theme “Transport Connectivity for Regional Prosperity” in 2022.

Meetings with leaders of regional countries on the sidelines

On September 16, Pakistan PM Khan held separate meetings with leaders of regional countries on the sidelines of the summit.

Pakistan and Iran - Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi exchanged views on bilateral relations focused on trade and regional connectivity and discussed the ongoing development in Afghanistan. Khan acknowledged Iran’s support for Pakistan’s initiative for a coordinated approach on Afghanistan by neighbouring countries. He said it was essential to take urgent steps to stabilize Afghanistan’s security, humanitarian and economic situation.

Pakistan and Uzbekistan - The talks between PM Khan and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev focused on fast-tracking trade and economic cooperation by implementing Uzbekistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (UPTTA), enhancing defence and security cooperation and initiating the Trans-Afghan Railway project. They also discussed the early finalization of the preferential trade agreement.

Pakistan and Kazakhstan - In his meeting with President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Pakistani premier expressed the desire to enhance Pakistan-Kazakhstan relations in diverse fields and improve connectivity through land and air routes.

Pakistan and Belarus - PM Imran Khan and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko discussed ways to improve Pakistan-Belarus relations across all fields including agriculture, industrialization and defence.