ECO members reaffirm commitment to extend multilateral cooperation, condemns HRV’s In IIOJK

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Islamabad- President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday stressed greater trade and connectivity among the countries of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to attain the goals of cohesive regional development and prosperity. Addressing here at the inaugural session of Second Conference of Parliamentary Assembly of the Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO) countries, the president said economic integration among regional states could act as an effective driver to foster sustainable peace and security. The conference gathered speakers and representatives of the national parliaments of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The president emphasized proper tapping of the region’s immense resources by ECO countries to nurture alliances for a win-win economic stability. “Your voice will be only heard at global platform if you are economically strong and stable,” he said, stressing upon the need for a viable regional integration through open trade market for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Dr Alvi said the ECO region, with its eight million square kilometre land mass and 500 million people, comprised six percent of the world population and had the potential to become economic power through institutionalized trade policy reforms. In today’s world, he said, where morality was becoming irrelevant next to the oppressor’s own whims and wishes, a strong leadership and approach promoting the ethos of humanity was direly needed. He mentioned the West’s double standards and hypocrisy in the name of “freedom of expression” where the incidents of blasphemy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) were on rise compared with the intolerance against a slight discussion on Holocaust. He also pointed that labeling the freedom movement of Palestinians and Kashmiris as terrorism by Israel and India was another approach of seeing them through the prism of prejudice. The president, however, categorically said that Pakistan’s stance on Israel’s violations of human rights was “not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist”. “We are against genocide. We are not against Jews or Christians, but against all oppressors of humanity,” he said. “Anyone who resorts to oppression, we will raise voice against them,” he added. The president expressed confidence that the Muslim world would join hands in giving the world a strong message on Islamophobia. Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser said Pakistan believed in the parliamentary partnership among ECO states to ensure socio-economic development. Bound by the bonds of religion, culture and history, he said, it was imperative upon the ECO countries to play a positive role in the comity of nations. He said economic connectivity in the region was significant to deal with the challenges of terrorism, amidst the risk posed by the non-state actors as enemy of prosperity. He proposed ECO investment agency, establishment of inter-regional linkages and promotion of knowledge-based economies. The speakers of the ECO member countries, present on the occasion and also virtually, highlighted different aspects of their mutual cooperation by overcoming regional issues, promoting harmony, safeguarding political liberties and strengthening parliamentary linkages. ECO Secretary General Dr Hadi Soleimanpour in his virtual address favoured a strong regional financial system, and establishment of banks and regional payment system to support the trade activities in the ECO region. He said creation of networks for regional tourism and supporting annual budget of ECO could help ensure realization of the dreams of development and prosperity.

Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga of Afghanistan Mir Rahman Rahmani said the goal of prosperity and development could not be achieved until all regional countries pursued the agenda of common development. He stressed that practical change could be witnessed if the states rose above their rivalries and agreed upon the collective betterment of their peoples.

Speaker of Azerbaijain’s Assembly Sahiba Gafarova stressed more efficient use of resources, adding that her country stood for integration for realizing global projects. She expressed gratitude to the government of Pakistan for extending moral support to Azerbaijan against ending the 30-year occupation of Armenia.

Iranian Speaker Mohammad Bager Ghalibaf in his virtual address emphasized on active participation of ECO countries in anti-corruption and anti-drug cooperation and also establishing ECO police to fight crimes. He called for joint Muslim voice against Islamophobia and extending necessary support to victims.

Chairman of Tajikistan’s Assembly Zokirzoda Mahmadtohir mentioned that creation of parliamentary friendship groups would ensure setting up of mutual beneficial ties and development of economic relations.

Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Prof Dr Mustafa Sentop stressed cooperation amongst ECO countries against coronavirus pandemic by esuring availability of vaccine.

 

Chairperson of Turkmenistan Assembly Gulshat Mammedova in her virtual speech on the occasion accelerating efforts and finding long-term solutions to the pressing challenges of the region.

Speaker of Uzbekistan’s Legislative Assembly Ismoilov Nurdinjon Muydinkhonovich mentioned food security, poverty alleviation, health and gender equality as the areas where the ECO countries could work together for better results.

 

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