Durrani to represent Pakistan at SCO Summit

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has nominated his National Security Advisor Mehmud Ali Durrani to represent Pakistan at the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of the State summit that will essentially focus on strategic direction and security issues.

The daylong summit is scheduled to open in Tajik capital Dushanbe on 28 August. Initially indications from the official quarters were that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would lead Pakistan's delegation. However, due to the recent political developments and a key National Assembly session next week, when a crucial resolution on judges' restoration is to be tabled, it was decided to send Mr. Durrani instead.

Pakistan has been invited to the summit as an observer nation, a status it acquired in the regional security grouping in 2005. Durrani, who previously served as Pakistan's ambassador to the US will be accompanied by senior foreign ministry officials. He is also expected to meet the Chinese and Iranian presidents who will also be attending the summit.

The question of expansion of the Organisation is also expected to taken up by the SCO leaders at the summit. It is believed that accession criteria are currently being reviewed to provide for the admission of new members.

An important proposal likely to be approved by the heads of state of the member countries pertains to real involvement of observers and other interested countries, which may become dialogue partners in practical work within the SCO framework.

The SCO is a multi-functional non-bloc regional association comprising Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It has observer status in the United Nations and established close business contacts with the ASEAN, European Union, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and other international organizations.

Besides Pakistan, Iran, India and Mongolia are currently observer members of the SCO. Afghanistan is also apparently keen to join the organization as observer. Pakistan has already requested full membership status and recently Iran has also expressed its desire for the same.

The SCO is widely perceived as a counterbalance to the growing US influence in the region. Although the organization's primary focus has been combating international terrorism, religious fanaticism and ethnic separatism, drug trafficking, and arms smuggling, it also covers political, economic and cultural issues.

The Afghan issue is expected to figure in discussions at the Dushanbe summit since Afghanistan remains the main source of drug and terrorist threats to the SCO member-states. The SCO meeting of the Council of Heads of State focuses on strategic direction and security while the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government deals with trade, economic matters.

[Source: UzReport, Uzbekistan, 25Aug08]

Tienda de Libros Radio Nizkor On-Line Donations

The Question of South Ossetia
small logoThis document has been published on 26Aug08 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.