ISLAMABAD (APP) – Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said Wednesday that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) holds tremendous potential for connectivity, trade, energy and economic development.

She said this during the inaugural session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) Legal Experts meeting being held in Islamabad from May 22 to 25.

The Foreign Secretary maintained that the SCO had had special significance for Pakistan as it offered a unique model of inter-state cooperation for peace, security, connectivity and sustainable development. She said that the organization could lead to progress and prosperity for the entire region, adding “We look forward to bringing further vitality to this vibrant organization.”

Tehmina Janjua asserted that with a consumer market of over 200 million people, vast business potential and a rapidly modernizing infrastructure, Pakistan offered the SCO enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation.

She pronounced that Pakistan’s historical and cultural ties and strong economic and strategic links with the SCO members, could act as an enabler in realizing the SCO’s vision.

“Pakistan is cognizant of the threats posed by terrorism, separatism and extremism to our region and beyond. Having fought terrorism, we have lost thousands of our citizens and law enforcement personnel, with many more injured. We have also suffered economic losses of over US$120 billion,” the Foreign Secretary added.

But neither the human nor the financial losses had diminished the country’s resolve to fight this menace, she said.

Tehmina Janjua declared, “Through our comprehensive efforts, over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, we have been able to turn the tide. Our National Counter Extremism Policy focuses on the Rule of Law, Service Delivery, Citizens Engagement, Media Engagement, Integrated Education Reform, Reformation, Rehabilitation, Reintegration, and Renunciation of terrorism by extremist elements and Promotion of Culture as its major facets.”

She went on to say that Pakistan looks forward to working with regional countries under the umbrella of SCO to effectively eliminate this menace from the region, adding in this regard, the country fully supported and welcomed the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against “three evils” of terrorism, extremism and separatism.

The Foreign Secretary said that as a new member, Pakistan would continue to complement these efforts, adding “We support SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun “double standards”.

She reiterated that terrorism could not and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.

Tehmina Janjua said, “We strongly believe that SCO-RATs is an ideal forum for exchange of views and best practices on countering terrorism and extremism. We hope that other member states can benefit from our rich experience in countering terrorism and extremism as we do from the good practices developed by other SCO members.”