ISSI’s Participation in 15th SCO Think Tank Forum
September 29, 2020
A 3-member delegation from Pakistan led by Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General, Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) participated in the15th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Think Tank Forum on September 29, 2020. Other members of the delegation included: Maj. Gen. Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery, President, Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) and Dr. Maria Sultan, Chairperson and President, South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).
The Forum was chaired and hosted virtually by the National Institute for Strategic Studies (NISS) of the Kyrgyz Republic in the background of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum was welcomed by the Director of NISS, Mr. Kaptagaev E. S., and addressed by Mr. Madumarov A. K., Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic and Mr. Kochkonov K. M., National Coordinator of the SCO from the Kyrgyz Republic.
In his welcome remarks at the greeting session, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry extended his felicitations to the chair and host of the Forum. He placed his hopes in the spirit of coordinated and inclusive efforts while expecting win-win outcomes for all nations. Ambassador Chaudhry extended full support to achieve consensus among the member states on putting an end to zero-sum games, victimizing nations on the basis of racial and religious discrimination, politicizing issues of regional development, technology, and pandemic, and coordinating multidimensional efforts to curb the contagion. He urged that the Forum must also move towards maintaining the core values of the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO).
The agenda of the 15th SCO Forum was based on the following three themes and sessions:
- Building sustainable peace and stability in the SCO region: Security challenges and threats tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- New approaches to multilateral economic cooperation in the SCO space amid a pandemic.
- Role of the SCO Forum and perspectives for cooperation in solving problems to overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic (in the field of public health, sanitary and epidemiological surveillance, emergency situation, education, tourism and other sectors).
In the first session, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry recommended a two-pronged approach: firstly to strengthen and deepen the spirit of the UN and WHO system; and, secondly, promoting the ideals of regional development and prosperity for all. In the second session, Dr. Maria Sultan stated that the focus on organizing future potential border closures without having to compromise trade and cross-border supplies, as well as medical communications and data sharing, the movements of citizens, air connectivity and medical aid is perhaps the only future if the states are to embrace the new era of change, technology, development and cooperation. She said that SCO can be the framework of cooperation and multilateralism in the Eurasian region in this regard. In the third session, Maj. Gen. Jaffery said that Pakistan takes SCO as a valuable forum to resolve energy crisis as some energy projects are already in progress under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan’s direct interaction with Russia, China, and Central Asian states will open new opportunities for economic development and regional connectivity. A greater consensus is direly needed to earn profits as lots of benefits can be achieved through prudent policies and utilization of the SCO mandate.
Other participants at the Forum noted that taking into account global and regional processes, there is a need for closer cooperation between the research and analytical centers of the SCO member states in order to study and comprehensively analyze the factors affecting further development of the SCO. The Forum meeting was attended by over 30 representatives of scientific and expert circles, including delegations from the National Research Centers of the SCO member states, representatives of scientific centers of the observer states and SCO dialogue partners.
Pakistan has been designated to identify the host and chair for the next SCO Think Tank Forum.